Factors influencing teacher instructional practice in mathematics when participating in professional development

William S. Walker, Purdue University


In this research, I investigated teachers’ interpretations of the goals of professional development and factors that contributed to enacted instructional practices. A multiple-case study design was used to examine the interpretations of four high school teachers participating in a year-long professional development program with a standards-based framework for mathematics education. Data collection included information about the professional development program, the intended and enacted curriculum (Stein et al., 2007), the teachers’ interpretations of the professional development goals, and context factors that influenced instructional planning and implementation. The data were used to create a description of the professional development, a case study of each teacher that included a description of the enacted curriculum and a description of context factors that influenced the instructional practices. Additional examination included a cross-case analysis to identify common themes between the teachers. Each teacher provided an interpretation of the goals of the professional development that was consistent with the professional development, but often focused on a narrower objective for each of the goals. The teachers’ interpretations of the goals influenced their use of ideas from the professional development in their classrooms. Four additional context factors were identified as influences on enacted instruction: perception of classroom control, attitude towards standards-based instruction, usefulness of professional development activities in relationship to grade levels or courses taught, and concerns about student success due to a lack of experience with standards-based instruction. The findings of this research have implications for providers of professional development for K-12 teachers of mathematics. First, professional development providers need to spend time learning about teachers’ interpretations of the goals of the professional development. Second, professional development providers should use a framework of content to be learned that is aligned with the goals of a professional development program. Finally, learning activities and sample lessons during the professional development should be grade level or course appropriate.




Kastberg, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Secondary education

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