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Models for collaborative professional development for teachers in mathematics

Mona Holmqvist (Department of School Development and Leadership, Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden)

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies

ISSN: 2046-8253

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to describe a review of the most frequently cited English articles of five models of collaborative professional development for mathematics teachers, aiming to describe the character of the development addressed and its quality issues.


The most frequently cited articles were chosen for their impact on the scientific discourse; they identify what aspects of the models are most focused and of interest. The research questions were: how is professional development described in the articles?, and what improvements are the models trying to increase or what problem are the models trying to solve? The review of these articles was also analyzed in relation to four quality indicators for praxis improvement (Holmqvist Olander, 2015): (A) ecological validation for predictive power, (B) generalization in theory, (C) cross-setting interventions, and (D) continuing professional development.


The result shows differences in focus. Educational action research focuses on solving the participants’ problem in the school environment while learning study tests different instructional designs to find the most powerful relationship between instruction and student learning. Lesson study and teacher research groups are collaborative professional development models integrated into the teachers’ ordinary work to develop everyday teaching and learning, and educational design research is mainly designed by researchers studying areas of interests, which can be shared by teachers.

Research limitations/implications

The articles used for the analysis are a selection, and not a total sample of everything published about the models. This can be both a limitation and strength. A very small sample of typical studies is used for the analysis, even though the models are used in several other situations and contexts as well, which can be seen as a limitation. However, as the selection of articles have the strongest impact on the research of each model, as they are the most cited articles and affect the way they are used. The contexts differ and this can be seen as a limitation as the models might be more efficient in some cultural settings than other.

Practical implications

Based on the articles’ findings, these five models can all be recommended to develop students’ mathematical knowledge as well as teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge. The results of this review can be used to guide what model to use depending on the need for professional development.

Social implications

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2015) and Hattie (2013) state that effective professional development is positioned as close to practice as possible, and that research questions should be raised and outcomes tested in teachers’ workplaces as a form of collaborative professional development. There is a contradiction between such claims and how we traditionally value research. Collaboration with teachers in research projects can, as well as aiming to have an impact on practice, sometimes be considered to be less scientific than a more objective standpoint that follows traditional indicators of scientific quality. This review shows how professional development can inform practice-based research and contribute with new knowledge of how to develop teaching and learning in the classroom.


The overview is different from an ordinary research review, as the focus is on the most cited articles. This is made to capture the main shape of how the models are presented in an international research context as the articles have an impact of how the models are understood and shared between contexts in different countries.



Holmqvist, M. (2017), "Models for collaborative professional development for teachers in mathematics", International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 190-201.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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