Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Christine D. Thomas, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Janice B. Fournillier, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Natalie King, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Robert M. Branch, Ed.D.

Fifth Advisor

Christopher C. Jett, Ph.D.


High quality teacher professional development has been linked to increase in student achievement. Active learning is a characteristic of effective professional development (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Gulamhussein, 2013). Additionally, there was a positive impact on student achievement in studies where active learning was incorporated in teacher professional development. Active learning occurs when learners interact during the learning process with the content and with one another (Learning Forward, 2011). As such, school districts should examine professional development learning environments to determine if active learning is transpiring. This study examined active learning in one school system’s online synchronous mathematics teacher leader train-the-trainer professional development initiative. The study sought to identity what instructional strategies were incorporated and how did the mathematics teacher leaders actively engage.

The school system in this study adopted new more rigorous college and career mathematics standards. To support implementation, the school system instituted a professional development (PD) initiative and contracted external facilitators to provide train-the-trainer professional development to mathematics teacher leaders. The mathematics teacher leaders in turn redelivered the PD in-person to teachers at a school. The PD sessions were conducted online synchronously using the Zoom platform.

The study used qualitative research methodology. Symbolic interactionism, constructivism and the Online Synchronous Active Learning Professional Development Framework based on Moore’s (1989) Three Types of Interaction and Grooms’ (2000) Learner Interaction Model were used to guide the examination of active learning. Data were collected and triangulated from the recorded videos, the transcribed videos, transcripts of the chats, and small breakout group documents completed by the participants.

The following themes emerged (1) modeling strategies; (2) collaborative conversations; (3) questioning to deepen knowledge; and (4) using online technology tools to convey ideas. The findings indicate active learning is fostered through interaction, facilitators must design learning environments conducive to active learning, mathematics teacher leaders must be provided opportunities to develop their own knowledge base, and facilitation strategies should promote the understanding of mathematics standards and pedagogical practices.


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