Professional Development: Mathematical Content Versus Pedagogy

Paul White, Michael Mitchelmore, Nicholas Branca, Michael Maxon


Recent teacher professional development in California tends to focus on increasing
teachers’ mathematical knowledge. In Australia, pedagogically focused programs
are preferred. The two approaches are contrasted by comparing a Californian
professional development model based on improving mathematical knowledge in
number and algebra with a New South Wales school-based model involving the
teaching of angle concepts. In both approaches, strengths and weaknesses are
identified in terms of appropriate mathematical content, research-based pedagogy,
and accreditation. Examples of courses incorporating all these components are
given, and difficulties associated with implementing such courses are identified.
Two important criteria for success, perceived relevance and teacher enthusiasm,
are seen to be dependent on cultural factors in the education systems involved.


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