I'm currently beginning research that involves an aspect of Professional Development (PD) for Mathematics teachers, but I don't have much experience or knowledge of PD. What are some of the seminal works on PD for Mathematics teachers that I can include in my Literature Review?


2 Answers 2


In terms of researchers who I am personally familiar with: I would recommend work by Orit Zaslavsky.

From her NYU-Steinhardt bio:

Orit Zaslavsky's research focuses on mathematics teacher education. She has been among the first scholars to study the development of teacher-educators, from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Within this broad research domain, she has investigated and conceptualized the nature of productive mathematics-related tasks and examples.

A search in google scholar here has as its top two citations:

Zaslavsky, O., & Leikin, R. (2004). Professional development of mathematics teacher educators: Growth through practice. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7(1), 5-32.


Zaslavsky, O., Chapman, O., & Leikin, R. (2003). Professional development of mathematics educators: Trends and tasks. In Second international handbook of mathematics education (pp. 877-917). Springer Netherlands.

For mathematics teachers in general (as opposed to mathematics teacher-educators) see if you can track down the 1994 NCTM yearbook, which had as its focus (and title) "Professional Development for Teachers of Mathematics." It's already 20 years old, but should provide a good starting point.

(Incidentally, checking google scholar for articles on PD that cite the '94 yearbook yields the latter of Zaslavsky's articles cited above as the first result.)


If you are still doing research on PD, here are references specifically related to implementation of reform recommendations. These articles are based on the fact that successful implementation of reform requires most teachers to make fundamental and perhaps even radical changes in their teaching practices.

  1. Policies That Support Professional Development in an Era of Reform by Linda Darling-Hammond and Milbrey McLaughlin

The vision of practice that underlies the nation’s reform agenda requires most teachers to rethink their own practice, to construct new classroom roles and expectations about student outcomes, and to teach in ways they have never taught before — and probably never experienced as students. The success of this agenda ultimately turns on teachers’ success in accomplishing the serious and difficult tasks of learning the skills and perspectives assumed by new visions of practice and unlearning the practices and beliefs about students and instruction that have dominated their professional lives to date. Yet few occasions and little support for such professional development exist in teachers’ environments.

  1. External Reform Initiatives and Teachers’ Efforts to Reconstruct Their Practice by James P. Spillane

  2. Reform and Teaching: Exploring Patterns of Practice in the Context of National and State Mathematics Reforms by James P. Spillane and John S. Zeuli

The latter two references describe the results of an 18-month study on teachers who claimed on a survey to be implementing the 1989 NCTM reform recommendations at a high level in their classrooms. The study found that only four of 25 teachers had actually changed the core of their practice to conform with the reform recommendations. The second article describes the elements of PD of the teachers who were successful in implementing the reforms and those who were not successful. The third article describes the three patterns of practice of the teachers, from most to least consistent with the reform recommendations, and discusses the implications for policy.

  1. Supporting Implementation of CCSSM: Recommendations for Professional Development

The recommendations that follow are intended to support large-scale, system-level implementation of professional development (PD) initiatives aligned with the CCSSM. They emerged from the work done under the auspices of a NSF-funded project, which provided the opportunity for experts from diverse fields to collaboratively address the challenge of providing high-quality mathematics PD at scale to support the implementation of the CCSSM. Over the course of the project, researchers and expert practitioners worked to integrate various perspectives on this challenge into a set of design recommendations for creating, sustaining, and assessing PD systems for practicing mathematics teachers. Generated from the coordination of research-based knowledge in different but related fields, these recommendations build on state-of-the-art research findings from mathematics education, PD, organizational theory, and policy.


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