Empirical Recovery of Learning Progressions Through the Lens of Educators

Learning progressions represent the relationship between concepts within a domain and how students develop increasingly sophisticated thinking therein. Typical evidence sources used to validate theorized learning progressions are also used to validate the use and interpretation of assessments, such as student cognitive interviews and psychometric analyses of item responses on assessments (Alonzo, 2018; Duschl et al., 2011). However, evidence from student responses to assessment items may reflect an interaction with the assessment itself more so than students’ domain-specific knowledge and understanding (Lai et al., 2017; Penuel et al., 2014). In this manuscript, we propose that educators’ perspectives may serve as an independent source of evidence that can be integrated with traditional evidence sources (e.g., cognitive interviews with students, psychometric data) to overcome this shortcoming. This manuscript describes two studies that used surveys to draw on educator knowledge of students to identify upper and lower bounds of a learning progression (MMaRS study) and to understand the order of intermediary phases of learning (ESTAR study). For both studies, participants included mathematics educators who were classroom teachers or curriculum and assessment developers in relevant grades. Survey results yielded meaningful information to support or modify the hypothesized learning progressions for the respective studies, supporting the proposition that educators’ perspectives can meaningfully complement commonly used evidence to validate the structure of learning progressions. Advantages and limitations to this approach are described.

Ketterlin-Geller, L. R., Zannou, Y., Sparks, A., & Perry, L. (2020). Empirical recovery of learning progressions through the lens of educators. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 60, 100.805. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmathb.2020.100805