Doctoral Student Elizabeth Dyer Wins AERA Research Fellowship

Doctoral Student Elizabeth Dyer Wins AERA Research Fellowship

Elizabeth Dyer

Learning Sciences doctoral student Elizabeth Dyer was awarded a dissertation fellowship by the American Education Research Association (AERA) to investigate responsive teaching practices in mathematics. Responsive teaching, which attends to and builds on students’ emerging ideas about mathematics, has been linked to increased learning gains.

The AERA-MET Dissertation Fellowship supports graduate students in education research as they conduct secondary data analysis using the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) Longitudinal Database. The program provides funding, professional development and training for use of the MET data to examine issues that will contribute to knowledge about teaching and learning.

Dyer’s study uses classroom video data from middle school math teachers in the MET database to help identify and document common growth trajectories for teachers adopting responsive teaching practices. In addition, she will investigate the differences in background and teacher knowledge between teachers who are becoming more responsive and those who are not.

“Responsive teaching is difficult and complex, and requires substantial changes from the types of instruction typically found in mathematics classrooms,” says Dyer. Likely for that reason, few teachers have adopted responsive teaching practices in the classroom.

“The results of this work will help inform how to support teachers through instructional coaching or professional development by providing teacher learning trajectories for developing responsive teaching practices. Additionally, this study will provide a better understanding of what responsive teaching looks like in middle school mathematics classrooms,” says Dyer.

The Measures of Effective Teaching study, which looked at more than 2,000 teachers, provides extensive quantitative and qualitative information about teachers and their teaching, student achievement, video-recorded lessons, and assessments of a teacher knowledge, as well as surveys of students and educators. Building on the richness of the MET data, AERA supports research by graduate students who use these data in their dissertation projects.

“It's really an unprecedented opportunity to look at teacher improvement because they collected videotaped lessons from the teachers over two school years. With the regular videotaping of lessons spaced through these two years, we have a snapshot of teachers’ classroom practices at several times during teachers’ growth,” Dyer explains.

Dyer is working with a large group of Northwestern undergraduates on this project due to the scope of the data.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 2/3/16