Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Ruth M. Heaton. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2013

Copyright (c) 2014 Kelly Georgius


This study offers an examination of two primary-grades teachers as they learn to transfer knowledge from professional development into their classrooms. I engaged in planning sessions with each teacher to help plan tasks of high cognitive demand, including anticipating and planning for classroom discourse that would occur around the task. A detailed description of the planning and teaching that took place during the study provides information about how a teacher can learn and what a teacher learns to consider in order to plan and implement meaningful mathematical lessons. This design experiment describes the work of two teachers who participated in Primarily Math, a professional development program funded by the National Science Foundation. The overarching questions studied were about the transfer of knowledge from professional development to classroom practice and how teachers plan and implement tasks of high cognitive demand. Within the study, I examined the role of the curriculum and the understanding of student conceptions of mathematics in planning and teaching. As well as how a researcher can support teachers through the planning and task implementation.

The author found that weak mathematical knowledge for teaching can be overcome by learning to deeply understand students. Additionally, the intentional use of talk moves can help teachers improve classroom discourse, sustain press for justification and minimize the routinizing of math problems. The author also suggests guidelines for planning tasks of high cognitive demand and questions that teachers can use to reflect upon and learn from their implementation of tasks of high cognitive demand.

Advisor: Ruth M. Heaton