Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Sally K. Roberts


On-going professional development for in-service teachers is critical to efforts to reform schools and increase student achievement. Coaching has been advocated as an approach to meet the conditions of quality professional development, and it has demonstrated a positive impact on student mathematics achievement scores when implemented over multiple years. Ambiguity of title, definition, and role surround coaching, presenting challenges to its execution in schools.

This study proposed a definition of Enacted Math Coaching to help address this ambiguity. As schools throughout Metropolitan Detroit adopt coaching as a component of school reform initiatives, the purpose of this study was to document and describe the professional experience and daily work of mathematics coaches in schools in Metropolitan Detroit. This included an exploration of the qualifications coaches bring to the role and their on-going professional development opportunities, as well as an analysis of their intended and enacted goals and activities. Data was gathered using a questionnaire, interviews, observations, and existing documents.

This study found clarity and consensus on the audience and purpose for math coaching. A review of the activities which coaches valued, and those on which they spent their time, highlighted a disconnect between priorities and implementation. Coaches reported spending only one fourth of their time on coaching activities of any type. Coaches had received training in curriculum materials, analyzing tasks and lessons in terms of the underlying mathematics, and strategies for supporting teachers and students. They sought more development in working with adult learners and strategies for supporting low-achieving students.