Date of Award

Fall 11-2017

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Karen Huchting

Second Advisor

Anna Bargagliotti

Third Advisor

Kati Krumpe


The math achievement of American students had been stagnant or falling since 2007, according to both national and international measures (NAEP, TIMSS, PISA). While the Common Core State Standards were partially a response to sinking levels of American math proficiency, those standards require a much greater depth of conceptual understanding of mathematics for teachers than previous standards, yet more than half of fifth- through eighth-grade math teachers are not certified to teach math. The federal government and school districts spend millions of dollars on teacher professional development, but little evidence shows what kind of professional development might be the most beneficial for math teachers. This study measured the impact of math content-based professional development on middle school math teachers. Findings suggest that the participating teachers’ content knowledge about ratios and proportional reasoning increased slightly during the study. Exit surveys indicated that the most recent PD session would have an impact on their teaching practice, although the impact would mostly be related to their pedagogy. However, there was little change in teachers’ self-efficacy toward teaching mathematics. As research indicates, content knowledge in math is connected to student achievement, the implication of which is that middle school math teachers can increase their content knowledge through professional development. Given that access to higher-level math courses is critical to college success, and the foundation for those higher-level math courses begins in middle school, it is imperative that all students and their teachers are supported to be successful in math.