A Look Inside Mathematics Coaching: Roles, Content, and Dynamics


  • Rejoice Mudzimiri University of Southern Mississippi
  • Elizabeth A. Burroughs Montana State University
  • Jennifer Luebeck Montana State University
  • John Sutton RMC Research Corporation
  • David Yopp University of Idaho




mathematics coaching, qualitative research


Mathematics classroom coaching is used across the United States as a means for improving instruction, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning. The job assignments of coaches can vary widely across schools and districts.  Regardless of the various forms that coaching can take, there is the consistent expectation that a coach’s day-to-day work will positively influence classroom instruction. The study reported here attempts to gain a more complete picture of the job of an elementary mathematics coach based on the observation of seven coaches in five different districts for a day. We report the variety of ways we observed elementary mathematics coaches interact with teachers, and what roles and responsibilities they take on. Our analysis of these data led us to create a template for conducting observations of mathematics classroom coaching, which could be used by researchers seeking to conduct studies about coaching or by administrators seeking to document the day-to-day work of coaches.


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Author Biographies

Rejoice Mudzimiri, University of Southern Mississippi

Rejoice Mudzimiri is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is a mathematics education researcher, with particular interest in the development of technological and pedagogical content knowledge in teachers. She is active in interdisciplinary grant-funded projects that support mathematics teaching.

Elizabeth A. Burroughs, Montana State University

Elizabeth Burroughs is an associate professor of mathematics education in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. Her research is focused on the preparation and continued professional development of school mathematics teachers. She is a Principal Investigator of the Examining Mathematics Coaching Project and chair of the Mathematical Association of America’s Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers. She will spend 2014–15 at the University of York in York, U.K., as a Fulbright scholar.

Jennifer Luebeck, Montana State University

Jennifer Luebeck is an associate professor of mathematics education in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montana State University. She has spent two decades designing professional development and outreach programs for K–12 mathematics teachers across the Mountain West. Her primary research interests include developing mechanisms and systems to mentor and support rural mathematics teachers and designing distance learning to provide effective professional development in mathematics. She has published in the Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership and the Journal of Distance Education.

John Sutton, RMC Research Corporation

Dr. Sutton serves as Senior Research Associate at RMC Research Corporation and is a Co-PI on the NSF-funded DRK-12 Examining Mathematics Coaching project which is exploring the types of coaching knowledge in the K-8 environment that contributes to changes in teacher knowledge and practice. Dr. Sutton also serves as PI for the NSF-funded Technical Evaluation Assistance in Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) project, which provides technical assistance to NSF-funded and U.S. Department of Education-funded MSP projects to improve the quality and rigor of project evaluations. Additionally, Dr. Sutton serves as RMC Research Deputy Associate Director for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Central Regional Education Laboratory. Dr. Sutton is a former Vice-President for the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and a former member of the Research Committee for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 

David Yopp, University of Idaho

David Yopp is a mathematics education researcher at University of Idaho. He has written and co-authored numerous publications on mathematics coaching, mathematical argumentation, and the mathematical knowledge for teaching.




How to Cite

Mudzimiri, R., Burroughs, E. A., Luebeck, J., Sutton, J., & Yopp, D. (2014). A Look Inside Mathematics Coaching: Roles, Content, and Dynamics. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 53. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v22n53.2014



Politics, Policies, and Practices of Coaching and Mentoring Programs