My research explores teacher cognition and the process of learning to teach, with an emphasis on changes in novice and experienced teachers' knowledge and beliefs about teaching, learning, subject matter, and their classroom practices. I am particularly interested in factors that facilitate and hinder teachers' learning of reform-based practices, and in policies and practices that can support teacher change. Currently, my research team is studying the impact of the Problem-Solving Cycle -- a professional development program for middle school mathematics teachers that we designed -- on teachers’ professional community and their knowledge, beliefs, and instructional practices.

Academic Appointments

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Professor, School of Education, Stanford University (2007 - Present)
  • Professor/Associate Professor, School of Education, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO (1991 - 2007)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park, MD (1985 - 1991)
  • Associate/Assistant Professor, Division of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA (1980 - 1985)
  • Educational Evaluator, System Development Corporation, Santa Monica, CA (1978 - 1980)

Professional Education

  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, Educational Psychology (1978)
  • M.A., University of California, Los Angeles, Philosophy of Education (1973)
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles, Psychology (1971)
  • Teaching Credential, University of Southern California, California State Elementary Teaching Credential, specialization in Mental Retardation (1972)

Research Interests

  • Professional Development
  • Science Education
  • Teachers and Teaching

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Toward a Scalable Model of Mathematics Professional Development: A Field Study of Preparing Facilitators to Implement the Problem-Solving Cycle

The Problem-Solving Cycle (PSC) model of mathematics professional development encourages teachers to become part of a collaborative and supportive learning community. As they participate in the PSC, teachers think deeply about both mathematics content and instruction, and they explore their instructional practices with their colleagues through the use of video and other classroom artifacts. One iteration of the PSC consists of three interconnected professional development workshops, all organized around a rich mathematical task. During Workshop 1, teachers collaboratively solve the mathematical task and develop plans for teaching it to their own students. Shortly after the workshop, the teachers implement the problem with their own students and their lessons are videotaped. In Workshop 2 teachers explore the role they played in implementing the problem. In Workshop 3 teachers critically examine students’ mathematical reasoning.

The Problem-Solving Cycle model provides a structure for mathematics teachers to work together and share a common mathematical and pedagogical experience. Our previous research suggests that it is a promising model for enhancing teachers’ knowledge and supporting changes in classroom practice.

In our current project, initiated in Fall 2007, we are working with a group of middle school mathematics teachers in a large urban district to foster their leadership capacity, and specifically to prepare them to facilitate the Problem-Solving Cycle. We will provide 2½ years of preparation and support for teachers who have been designated as “mathematics instructional leaders.” These instructional leaders will in turn implement the PSC with the mathematics teachers in their schools. We will document the range and quality of the instructional leaders’ implementation of the PSC. We will also analyze the impact of the professional development process on the mathematical knowledge and classroom teaching of the instructional leaders and the mathematics teachers with whom they work. In addition, we will analyze the impact on their students’ mathematics achievement. By the conclusion of the project, we anticipate that the participating schools will have the infrastructure and capacity to carry out the PSC indefinitely, using their own resources. In addition, the project will produce a highly refined set of PSC facilitation materials—with a strong emphasis on supporting a linguistically and culturally diverse student population—that can be widely disseminated.

Stanford Advisees

  • Doctoral Dissertation Reader (AC)
    Barbara Barbosa Born, Kristin Keane, Emily Reigh
  • Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
    Coralie Delhaye
  • Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
    Michael Jarry-Shore
  • Doctoral (Program)
    Kelly Boles, Victoria Docherty, Michael Jarry-Shore, Faith Kwon, Jim Malamut, Matthew Wilsey

All Publications

  • Middle School Science Teachers' Conceptions of Assessment Practice Throughout a Year-long Professional Development Experience EDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENT Wilsey, M., Kloser, M., Borko, H., Rafanelli, S. 2020; 25 (2): 136–58
  • Impacts of a Practice-Based Professional Development Program on Elementary Teachers' Facilitation of and Student Engagement With Scientific Argumentation AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH JOURNAL Osborne, J. F., Borko, H., Fishman, E., Gomez Zaccarelli, F., Berson, E., Busch, K. C., Reigh, E., Tseng, A. 2019
  • Evidence of Middle School Science Assessment Practice From Classroom-Based Portfolios SCIENCE EDUCATION Kloser, M., Borko, H., Martinez, J. F., Stecher, B., Luskin, R. 2017; 101 (2): 209-231

    View details for DOI 10.1002/sce.21256

    View details for Web of Science ID 000394903000002

  • The role of video-based discussion in model for preparing professional development leaders. International journal of STEM education Borko, H., Carlson, J., Mangram, C., Anderson, R., Fong, A., Million, S., Mozenter, S., Villa, A. M. 2017; 4 (1): 29


    This paper describes the Problem-Solving Cycle model of professional development and the Mathematics Leadership Preparation model of PD leader preparation. These models form the backbone of our current research-practice partnership project in which we are working with a large urban district to adapt these models to develop district capacity to support the implementation of a middle school mathematics curriculum aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS). We highlight the central role of video in the Problem-Solving Cycle and our approach to preparing teacher leaders to use video-based discussions to understand student thinking and instructional practices.The first phase of the research was designed to identify how the models were adapted to support the district goals for implementing their new CCSS mathematics curriculum and to understand the reasons for the adaptations. The analysis of multiple data sources revealed two overarching categories of adaptations that we made to refine the models to better support the district goals: addressing district priorities and addressing teacher leaders' limited experience. We made adaptations such as incorporating the district curriculum, addressing the needs of English learners, integrating the teacher leaders' learning of the Problem-Solving Cycle model into the leadership preparation session, increasing the emphasis on what it means to be an instructional leader, strengthening the role of modeling and debriefing activities to support leadership development, scaffolding the selection of video clips, and incorporating the use of rehearsals and debriefing activities to support leadership development.The implications of this work illustrate the need for researchers to be responsive to the context of their school partners if they expect their work to be meaningful. Using the frame of design-based implementation research proved to be an effective strategy for working with the district STEM leadership team and teacher leaders to adapt the Problem-Solving Cycle and Mathematics Leadership Preparation models to support district implementation of a new curriculum that necessitates shifts in teacher practices and for determining how to make video-based discussions more productive activities in the models.

    View details for PubMedID 30631685

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6310394

  • The role of video-based discussion in model for preparing professional development leaders International Journal of STEM Education Borko, H., Carlson, J., Mangram, C., Anderson, R., Fong, A., Million, S., Mozenter, S., Villa, A. M. 2017; 4 (1)
  • Measuring instructional practice in science using classroom artifacts: lessons learned from two validation studies JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN SCIENCE TEACHING Martinez, J. F., Borko, H., Stecher, B. M. 2012; 49 (1): 38-67

    View details for DOI 10.1002/tea.20447

    View details for Web of Science ID 000298262500002

  • Teachers, Teaching, and Teacher Education: Comments on the National Mathematics Advisory Panel's Report EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER Borko, H., Whitcomb, J. A. 2008; 37 (9): 565-572