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CMP Promotes Productive Disciplinary Engagement

Release Date: March 24, 2020


Dr. Kristen BiedaDr. Kristen Bieda recently shared the latest work from an NSF-funded design research project exploring the affordances for a digital CMP to support students' productive disciplinary engagement at the 2020 Teachers' Development Group Seminar in Portland, Oregon. Productive disciplinary engagement (PDE; Engle & Conant, 2002) is defined as the extent to which students’ classroom experiences embody characteristics of disciplinary practice. The four principles of classrooms that support PDE are: problematizing, authority, accountability, and resources. Problematizing happens when students grapple with mathematical uncertainties that they face some measure of challenge to resolve. Authority represents the extent to which students exhibit agency in addressing mathematical uncertainties. The classroom discourse contributes to supporting students’ agency to solve challenging problems and building their identities as mathematical authorities. When the teacher or students press a student to explain their thinking or justify their mathematical claim, the discourse reinforces accountability as a classroom norm. Finally, students’ access to resources, including curriculum materials, digital tools, and even others’ in-the-moment thinking, plays a key role in supporting PDE during a class. PDE offers a way to consider students’ classroom experiences that integrates attention to the cognitive demand of students’ mathematical work along with attention to how students are expressing agency and being held accountable for rigorous work in the classroom, yet its current use to support teachers’ reflection on their practice in mathematics classrooms has been limited.

Much of the existing work using PDE as a lens on classroom learning focuses on how teachers support or inhibit the four principles of classrooms that embody PDE. Dr. Bieda, along with Dr. Edson, Taren Going, and Merve Kursav, have developed a new framework that describes the principles of classrooms that embody PDE in terms of what students are doing and saying as indicative of these principles. The framework was developed using video-recordings of CMP classrooms piloting units from a new CMP digital curriculum with innovative supports for small group, collaborative work on open problems. For each of the four principles,

the framework articulates observable criteria and distinguishes these criteria into categories of high, medium, and low PDE. This framework holds promise for use in professional development, specifically to help teachers notice specific behaviors that reveal the extent to which students’ work reflects productive disciplinary engagement.

In the session, participants explored how the criteria specified for authority and accountability could inform assessments of students’ opportunities to learn in highly diverse classroom settings. They analyzed three examples of classrooms where students’ engagement models high, medium, and low PDE and discussed how resources such as digitally based curriculum, one-to-one technology models, and teacher support influence the quality of PDE in classrooms. We are excited to bring this new framework to teachers and teacher leaders as we believe it holds a lot of potential for use in teacher video clubs and supporting grade level teams to engage in collaborative inquiry into the emergence of PDE in pair or small group work.

This work is based on the NSF DRL1660926 funded grant, Promoting Productive Disciplinary Engagement and Learning with Open Problems and “just-in-time” Supports in Middle School Mathematics. Principal Investigators: Elizabeth Phillips, Kristen Bieda, Alden Edson, and Joseph Krajcik at Michigan State University and Chad Dorsey at Concord Consortium.

NSFThis material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-1660926. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.