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My research explores how teachers develop mathematical proficiency for teaching from professional experiences (i.e., in preparation programs, with colleagues in schools, and in professional development). Following Kilpatrick, Swafford, and Findell (2001), I define mathematical proficiency for teaching to include both knowledge and dispositions (cognitive and non-cognitive skills) and hypothesize that these components interact and develop together. Teachers are increasingly seen as the key to improving educational quality, yet little is known about how they learn the knowledge they use in their work or about the role of teachers’ dispositions in learning or using this knowledge. My approach to the problem has been influenced by recent work identifying and measuring the mathematical knowledge that teachers use in practice, by theories of motivation that link knowledge use and acquisition to social contexts, and by the power of quantitative methods to describe educational phenomena at scale.
In one study (Jacobson & Izsák, 2013), I used interview techniques to study prospective teachers' conceptual change during a university methods course. In another, I used hierarchical linear models of survey data from the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics to describe the associations between future U.S. Grade K-6 teachers’ student teaching experiences and their knowledge and beliefs about mathematics, teaching, and learning at the end of their teacher education program (Jacobson, 2013). I am currently exploring the hypothesis that specific grade level experience is consequential for developing mathematical proficiency for teaching at particular grade levels by using a mixed-methods, longitudinal approach to compare Grade 6 and 7 teachers who teach multiplicative reasoning topics with Grade 8 teachers who do not.