Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Steven Ziebarth

Second Advisor

Dr. Christine Browning

Third Advisor

Dr. Mariana Levin

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Shari Stockero


Teacher change, teacher learning, reflection, professional development, professional learning


One of the most common methods employed to help teachers improve the teaching and learning of mathematics is professional development (PD). Research into professional development is a relatively new field, but still we know much about the features of effective PD with respect to such improvements. While the broad features of PD that are effective at creating change are relatively well-defined in the research, our understanding of the process of teacher change remains limited.

To begin to better understand this change process, this study examined the processes of teacher change associated with a specific PD intervention. The PD intervention in question focused on the development of research-informed, effective mathematics pedagogy PD for secondary teachers and was called the Secondary Mathematics Instructional Institute (SMII). Using a qualitative multiple case-study model, this study investigated the change processes of a sample of 3 teacher participants. Data gathered from participants included semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and video recordings of PD sessions. Detailed case study reports were prepared for all participants and cross-case analyses were performed. Further, analysis of interview and PD session transcripts involved semi-open coding techniques using frameworks for teacher change and reflection.

The three subjects in this study experienced change processes that were inhibited and supported by multiple influences from multiple domains. Interestingly, subjects’ change processes were influenced by external factors both positively and negatively. The mediating processes of reflection and enaction appeared to drive the change processes of study participants—that is, subjects engaged in cycles of reflection followed by professional experimentation (or vice versa) and so incrementally changed their beliefs and practices. This was partially confirmed in some cases via classroom observation. All participants submitted examples of alternative patterns of practice for the lesson study sessions, thereby showing that, minimally, each could engage in practices consistent with those espoused by the PD intervention.

Change processes were mapped using Clarke and Hollingsworth’s Interconnected Model of Teacher Professional Growth (Teaching and Teacher Education 18(8), 947-967, 2002) and two types of pathways emerged: classical change pathways and alternative change pathways. Classical change pathways had significant initial involvement of subject belief systems, while this involvement was delayed in alternative change pathways. Reflective activity, while not linked strongly to time across the PD, was linked to engagement in lesson study activity—subjects reflected more often and at higher levels while collectively analyzing video examples of practice. Implications for future research and for PD providers are also discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access