Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp Professional Noticing of Children's Mathematical Thinking

Jacobs, V. R., Lamb, L. L. C., & Philipp, R. A. (2010). Professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 41(2), 169-202.

Summary: This study examined 131 preservice and inservice elementary teachers’ professional vision of mathematical thinking, defined as professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking. The study grouped the teachers into four categories: prospective teachers, initial participants, advancing participants, and emerging teacher leaders. The findings suggest that there were differences across the groups and that sustained professional development is used, teachers continue to make gains in their development of professional vision.

These authors argue that professional noticing actually requires the combination of what they call three component skills – attending, interpreting, and deciding how to respond.

“Learning to notice is particular ways is part of the development of expertise in a profession” (p. 170).

“Throughout all these studies, researchers define noticing in a multitude of ways, but the connecting thread is making sense of how individuals process complex situations” (p. 171).



“In contrast, professional development seems to provide support for developing expertise in all three component skills. Furthermore, when professional development is sustained beyond 2 years and coupled with leadership activities, teachers continue to gain in their abilities to interpret children’s understandings and to sue those understandings in deciding how to respond” (p. 182).


Goodwin 1994 – professional vision

“Goodwin (1994) used the term professional vision to capture how members of a profession develop perceptual frameworks that enable them to view complex situations in particular ways” (p. 170).


Mason 2002 – productive (evidenced-based) and unproductive interpretation (snap evaluations based on minimal evidence), intentional noticing

Frederiksen, J. R., Sipusic, M., Sherin, M., & Wolfe, E. W. (1998). Video portfolio assessment: Creating a framework for viewing the functions of teaching. Educational Assessment, 5, 225-297.

Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional vision. American Anthropologist, 96, 606-633.

Mason, J. (2002). Researching your own practice: The discipline of noticing. London: Routledge-Falmer.