Creative Education
2013. Vol.4, No.3, 194-195
Published Online March 2013 in SciRes ( DOI:10.4236/ce.2013.43029
Ameliorating Pedagogical Competencies in Mathematics for
Secondary School Teachers
Rebecca R. Robichaux1, Paulette Rodrigue2, Anthony J. Guarino3
1Curriculum Education, Mississippi State University, Starkville, USA
2Curriculum Education, Nicholls State University, Thibodaux, USA
3Massachusetts General Hospital, Institute of Health Professions, Boston, USA
Received January 15th, 2013; revised February 20th, 2013; accepted February 28th, 2013
This article reports the efficacy of the Multidimensional Content-Based Mathematics Professional De-
velopment Project in ameliorating pedagogical competencies in mathematics for secondary school teach-
ers. The project protocol is an intensive two week all day summer session with six all day Saturday ses-
sions scheduled throughout the following fall semester. Participants were 28 secondary mathematics
teachers randomly selected from schools identified as low-performing. Data were analyzed by conducting
a repeated measure analysis of variance and a polynomial regression analysis. Results indicated a statisti-
cally significant 28% improvement in mathematics pedagogical competencies. Implications of this study
are discussed.
Keywords: Mathematics Education; Pedagogy; Professional Development
A comprehensive literature review documents that many
middle and high school teachers lack pedagogical content
knowledge in mathematics (Ball, Hill, & Bass, 2005). This lack
of competent pedagogy is a major cause of students’ substan-
dard performance on standardized mathematics exams across
the United States (Hill & Lubienski, 2007). To ameliorate
teachers’ pedagogical competencies, some regional postse-
condary institutions form partnerships with secondary schools.
Through these partnerships, the postsecondary academy deli-
vers professional development programs to the secondary edu-
cators on current evidence-based teaching practices. One such
professional development program is the Multidimensional
Content-Based Mathematics Professional Development Project.
This project was developed at a Doctorate-granting University
located in southeastern United States. This innovative program
was devised to advance pedagogical competencies in mathe-
matics education for both new and veteran teachers. The activi-
ties of this program present the current research-based teaching
strategies and assessment techniques to advance student mathe-
matics performance (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001).
While current research supports the overall successes of part-
nership programs in general (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008),
the principal aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of
the Multidimensional Content-Based Mathematics Professional
Development Project to ameliorate pedagogical competencies
in mathematics for middle and high school teachers.
Participants and Procedure
The cohort of 28 mathematics teachers was randomly se-
lected from middle and high schools identified as low-per-
forming. The majority of these teachers were female ranging in
age from 19 to 56 with teaching experience ranging from 3 to
17 years. The teacher-participants enrolled in a six-hour gradu-
ate course scheduled all day for two-weeks in the summer and
concluded with six all day Saturday sessions the following fall
semester. These sessions on pedagogical content presented
meaningful and relevant activities for the teacher’s current
classroom needs. These exercises are endorsed by the national
standards (NCTM, 2000) as well as documented by evi-
dence-based practice to advance student achievement (Marzano,
Norford, Paynter, Pickering, Pollock, & Gaddy, 2001). The
participants first observed the activity from the program mentor
then performed the activity to the cohort allowing for mean-
ingful dialogue concerning the strategies and how to effectively
implement them in their classrooms. To receive graduate credit,
participants were required to develop a number of projects.
Examples of these projects included a literature search to re-
view two current research articles on any topic within the do-
main of mathematics teaching and then present a synopsis to
the cohort. Another project involved evaluating the legitimacy
of Websites for mathematics teaching. The participants created
a rubric to assess such criteria as (a) type of domain, (b) au-
thor’s credentials, (c) well-documented sources, and (d) how
others critiqued the page (Barker, 2004). This evaluation of the
websites led to the identification of ten useful, reliable sites
which were then summarized and presented to the cohort.
These websites provided a solid resource in developing their
lesson plan project. The literature research activities and the
website evaluations provided the foundations for the lesson
plan project. The lesson plan project required participants to
select and develop a five-day mathematics unit of their choice
that incorporated research-based strategies and addressed ap-
propriate state and national mathematics standards.
A 20 item examination was developed to assess the partici-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
pants’ competencies on evidence-based mathematical peda-
gogical content. Possible scores ranged from 0 to 100 percent
and assessments were recorded at baseline and at post interven-
Statistical Analyses
Statistical tests for this study included a repeated measures
analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA) and a polynomial re-
gression analysis. All statistical tests were conducted using
IBM SPSS v19 with alpha set at p < 0.05.
The pretest pedagogical competencies scores were M =
69.36% (SD = 11.88) while the post-test scores were M =
88.68% (SD = 7.45) indicating a 27.84% improvement, which
is a statistically significant increase, F (1, 27) = 139.98, p <
0.001, η2 = 0.84, an extremely large effect. A polynomial
regression analysis was conducted to determine the relationship
between pre and post scores. The results indicated that the
quadratic relationship was superior to the linear relationship
with coefficients of determination of 0.57 and 0.42 respectively.
In other words, greater gains appeared to occur with those who
had lower pre scores, while smaller gains were observed for
those with higher pre-scores.
Although further research is recommended to validate these
positive results, these preliminary findings provide convincing
evidence of the project’s effectiveness with significant statisti-
cal and practical amelioration in mathematics pedagogical
competencies for secondary teachers. Not only did the results of
the post-test scores indicate overall pedagogical gains by the
participants, but those who scored lower on the pre-test actually
“caught up” with their higher scoring pre-test peers. Thus, at
the completion of the intervention, the majority of the partici-
pants were at equivalent levels of mathematical pedagogical
competencies. Post intervention interviews substantiated the
program’s success. Examples included the secondary teacher
participant who reported, “Professionally I have learned to
reflect on my teaching practices. I now provide more problem
solving experiences and alternative assessments. I have made
professional friendships with other math teachers. Networking
was great!” Another teacher participant noted, “The program
helped me to vary my instructional strategies... and helps to
increase content knowledge and improve instructional practices.
I have learned to adapt activities into more student-centered
activities”. The program illustrated that effective professional
development can directly impact teachers’ instructional prac-
tices regardless of the teacher’s prior experience when profes-
sional development contents are meaningful and relevant to
teachers’ current classroom needs. These preliminary results
strongly suggest the implementation of this project for math
teachers aspiring to develop their pedagogical mathematical
competencies and subsequently advance students’ mathematics
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