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The role of content-focused coaching in fostering ambitious mathematics teaching practices in elementary classrooms

Murawski, Corinne (2019) The role of content-focused coaching in fostering ambitious mathematics teaching practices in elementary classrooms. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Evidence exists that ambitious teaching in mathematics classrooms makes a difference for student learning, regardless of grade level, yet many teachers of mathematics do not employ such techniques. While there are multiple possible explanations for this, no one explanation has been proven. Additionally, some studies have shown success in helping teachers change pedagogical practices to implement more ambitious practices. This study proposes that teachers need more in situ professional learning in conjunction with outside-the-classroom professional development to catalyze a change in practice. One form of such in situ learning is content-focused coaching. This study compared teachers’ practices to attempt to show the increased effects of content-focused coaching plus outside-the-classroom professional development in contrast to only the outside-the-classroom professional development component.
Findings clearly showed that coached teachers had significantly more opportunities to learn about ambitious teaching practices than comparison teachers. However, results were not as clear when the use of such practices was assessed. While coached teachers significantly improved scores on Academic Rigor (AR) rubrics from the Instructional Quality Assessment (IQA) and had better scores than their counterparts in the comparison group, teachers' scores on the composite IQA did not significantly improve and were not better than the uncoached teachers’ scores. Qualitatively, coached teachers’ experiences with the effective Mathematics Teaching Practices during coaching were different than the experiences of the uncoached teachers.
Findings from this study demonstrate that coaching matters. The content and the quality of what happens during coaching around the effective teaching practices for mathematics impacts teachers’ classroom practice. In addition, this study shows that pairing coaching with outside-the-classroom professional development that also exposes teachers to ambitious teaching practices helps teachers better implement the practices. This is particularly true when the pairing is purposeful. In other words, when the same ambitious practice(s) is the focus of coaching and concurrently the focus of outside-the-classroom professional development, teachers more readily implement the practice(s) in their classroom. Purposefully integrating coaching with the content of teachers’ curriculum, and purposefully integrating coaching with teachers’ current position along a trajectory for learning about ambitious teaching practices also helps teachers more readily implement ambitious instructional methods.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Murawski, Corinnecorinne.murawski@aiu3.netcom200000-0002-1956-5509
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAnsell, Ellenansell@pitt.eduansell
Committee MemberSmith, Margaretpegs@pitt.edupegs
Committee MemberTrahan, Keithkwt2@pitt.edukwt2
Committee MemberBoston,
Date: 16 December 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 6 December 2019
Approval Date: 16 December 2019
Submission Date: 15 December 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 279
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: coaching ambitious instruction effective Mathematics Teaching Practices content-focused coaching pedagogical practices professional development
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2019 14:50
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2019 14:50


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