Date of Award

Winter 2017

Project Type


Program or Major

Mathematics Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Sharon McCrone

Second Advisor

Karen Graham

Third Advisor

Orly Buchbinder


Mathematics teachers use a wide variety of assessment tools and methods to measure student understanding and illuminate potential learning gaps (NCTM, 2014). The most frequent and least formal types occur as observations and interactions that provide immediate feedback on the learning process (NRC, 2003, Wiliam, 2007). These Instructional Assessments emerge within the social environment of classroom activity, and serve a formative function by directly impacting the flow of discussion and motivating appropriate teaching interventions. Research has shown that formative assessment improves student performance, but is often challenging for teachers to master (OECD, 2005). The influence of annual high-stakes testing in the United States over the past decade motivates further examination of this conflict at the secondary level. This dissertation describes two case studies performed with secondary mathematics co-teachers in a large, urban, public school. Interviews and classroom observations were performed over the course of an academic semester, exposing challenges and strategies in the areas of professional self-efficacy and knowledge for teaching. Coding and thematic analysis were used to develop structured narratives for each participant. The results illustrate that Instructional Assessment empowers mathematics teachers in part by providing them with unrestricted access to student learning, and develops their ability to interact creatively in productive and meaningful ways.