Elham Kazemi: Research Projects
My work fits within and extends a growing body of research that explores the long-term supports that enable teachers and schools to meet the complex demands of teaching mathematics for understanding. I have studied how teachers learn about children’s thinking in mathematics and how teachers’ collaborative inquiry creates new cultures of learning within schools. My concern with teacher learning rests fundamentally on my concern for student learning – the kind of learning that honors students’ ideas and views schools as places for vibrant intellectual life for teachers and students.
central themes in my research
:Examining Tools for Professional Education and Teacher Learning
Investigating Student Learning & Assessment in Classrooms
Using student work to promote teacher inquiry
Kazemi, E., & Franke, M.L. (2004). Teacher learning in mathematics: Using student work to promote collective inquiry. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 7, 203-235.
Franke, M., Kazemi, E., Shih, J., Biagetti, S., & Battey, D. (in press). Changing teachers’ professional work in mathematics: One school’s journey. In T.A. Romberg,T.P. Carpenter, T. P., & F. Dremock (Eds.) Understanding mathematics and science matters. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Franke, M.L., & Kazemi, E. (2001). Learning to teach mathematics: Developing a focus on students’ mathematical thinking. Theory into Practice, 40, 102-109.
Franke, M.L., & Kazemi, E. (2001). Teaching as learning within a community of practice: Characterizing generative growth. In T. Wood, B. Nelson, & J. Warfield (Eds.). Beyond classical pedagogy in elementary mathematics: The nature of facilitative teaching (pp. 47-74). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Teachers’ efforts to inquire into student work are part of a larger domain of professional learning, which I have studied in several ways. For the past five years, I have been co-PI of a $3.9 million teacher leadership grant from the National Science Foundation called Expanding the Community of Mathematics Learners (ECML). This project has engaged about 300 elementary teachers across six districts in investigating student thinking, building leadership capacity, and improving classroom instruction and professional community. These teacher leaders have, in turn, worked with several hundred colleagues in facilitating professional development in mathematics.
One question I have pursued is how professional development influences teachers’ classroom practices. Papers examine (1) the pedagogical dilemmas teachers face as they learn more about children’s thinking in mathematics and (2) how teachers’ current curriculum materials and tools constrict their capacity to elicit and make use of children’s thinking in instruction. One theme, which is developed across both papers, is how professional development can more dynamically address the genuine questions that teachers face in their classroom practice as they continually learn. Much of the professional development for elementary mathematics teachers is designed to introduce them to children’s thinking in various mathematical domains, and my research is pointing to the important need of designing work for teachers further down the learning trajectory. A third paper uses data from my dissertation and from ECML to raise questions about how teachers’ engagement in their classroom and professional development mutually influence each other. I also raise design issues for professional development – if we better understand the trajectories of participation that teachers experience as they engage with professional development and their classroom, then how can professional educators better support teacher learning?
Kazemi, E., & Lenges, A. Relating professional development in mathematics to the classroom. Unpublished manuscript.
Kazemi, E. (2004, April). The interaction between classroom practice and professional development. In K. McClain (Chair), Articulating effective design principles in professional development: A focus on interactions. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego.
New Work: A second and related question concerns the development of teachers’ content knowledge. In the ECML grant, we used seminar materials called Developing Mathematical Ideas(DMI) created by Deborah Schifter, Virginia Bastable, and Susan Jo Russell at EDC in Boston. Many of these seminar materials were actually under development during our grant. The authors relied on our feedback as they created and refined these materials, especially in the seminars focused on measurement, geometry, data analysis, and algebraic thinking. I was involved in developing the algebraic thinking and data analysis materials. Growing out of this developmental work, I have set in motion research on what teachers learned about interpreting data using what to them were new representational tools (stem and leaf plots, box plots). I am also studying what teachers bring to the study of algebraic thinking in the elementary grades, which is the focus of much new research in mathematics education. Together with Steve Monk, a mathematician at UW, we piloted and studied the DMI seminar on algebraic thinking. We are now analyzing how teachers engaged with the mathematics in that particular seminar, paying specific attention to how elementary teachers’ work with arithmetic influences their understanding of algebraic ideas.
Investigating Student Learning & Assessment in Classrooms
My work with teachers is fueled by my understanding of children and classroom practice. Therefore, the second thrust of my research agenda focuses on student learning and assessment in classrooms, in mathematics and other subject domains.
Creating a press for understanding
Kazemi, E., & Stipek, D. (2001). Promoting conceptual thinking in four upper-elementary mathematics classrooms. Elementary School Journal, 102, 59-80.
Kazemi, E. (1998). Discourse that promotes conceptual understanding. Teaching Children Mathematics, 4, 410-414.
Examining student thinking on standardized tests
Kazemi, E. (2002). Exploring test performance in mathematics: The questions children’s answers raise. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 21, 203-224.
Understanding children’s experiences across mathematics and literacy
Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., & Balf, R. (in press). Making Sense of “The Boy Who Died”: Tales of a struggling successful writer. Reading and Writing Quarterly.
Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., Balf, R. (in press).The aftermath of ‘you’re only half’: Multiracial identities in the literacy classroom. Language Arts.
Dutro, E., Kazemi, E., Lin, Y. & Balf, R. (under review). “What are you and where are you from?”: Culturally relevant pedagogy as identity work in a diverse urban classroom. American Educational Research Journal.