An important aspect in the dissemination of Pendidikan Matematika Realistik Indonesia (PMRI: Indonesian Realistic Mathematics Education) is to provide professional development for teachers, principals, teacher educators through local workshops (Sembiring, R. K., Hoogland, K., & Van den Hoven, G., 2009). One local workshop was studied in depth to gain better insight about how the design principles for workshops (‘the intended workshop’).

Theoretical framework

Workshops are chosen as the vehicle for professional development; PMRI is content of the workshops. As a result of the workshops, teachers should change their way of teaching and start implementing PMRI in their schools.

Effective professional development strategies

Effective professional development contains activities and teaching strategies that can be applied by teachers in their own practice;  in effective professional development, experiencing activities from a student’s perspective (and reflecting on it) is a central element; effective professional development facilitates developing a network of support for the teachers (Rogers et al., 2007).

Criteria for effective workshops

Workshops can be an instrument for effective professional development that stimulates educational change, providing that the following specific criteria are satisfied. These criteria are that the workshops:

  • contains activities and teaching strategies that can be applied by teachers in their own practice.
  • offers an opportunity for teachers to experience a sense of cognitive dissonance that challenges their (pedagogical) content knowledge.
  • contains experiencing activities from a student’s perspective and reflecting on it.
  • provide student data as content for activities.
  • facilitates developing a network of support for the teachers.
  • focuses on the preparation of teachers to become leaders in their schools.

Moreover, two remaining important factors of effective professional development and educational change  are:

  • offering follow-ups on the professional development.
  • satisfying conditions for implementing new knowledge and skills by the school.


RME in professional development

One of the key principles of Realistic Mathematics Education is that mathematics is not considered to be a product can be passed on by the teacher in a ”top down” manner, but it is something children have to construct themselves. This is a ‘bottom-up’ approach towards mathematics education, in which construction of knowledge by students, and guidance by the teachers, plays an important role – next to a classroom culture in which these activities can flourish (Freudenthal, 1991; Treffers, 1987; Gravemeijer,1994 & 2010). The key ideas of RME and PMRI are similar, but PMRI is not exactly the same as RME because of cultural differences in education between the Netherlands and Indonesia.

Cultural difference between the Netherlands and Indonesia

The Netherlands an individualist country with a small power distance; Indonesia is a collectivist country with a large power distance. Because of these differences, the analysis of the cultural differences between education in the Netherlands and Indonesia is useful in the dissemination of PMRI. It is important to take into account that there are cultural differences in education; both in the workshops in PMRI and in the classrooms so that we should be aware of these differences when planning and carrying out activities.

The intended, the implemented, and the realized workshops

 The design principles and the framework of PMRI workshops represent the intended workshop. Since that time, local workshop have been prepared and executed at several universities all over Indonesia. Such a workshop is the implemented workshop. What the participants and the facilitators learned from the workshop, and how the facilitators use this information to improve the next workshop, is considered the realized workshop. The realized workshop not only gives input for the next the next workshop; it also provides outcomes that can be evaluated on a level independent of these specific workshops, in order to draw conclusions, on a more general level, about the professional  development offered in this setting.

Evaluating professional development

Guskey (2002) established five critical levels of professional development evaluation. Level 1 looks at participants’ reactions to the professional development experience. In level 2, the focus is on measuring the knowledge and skills that the participants required. Level 3 evaluates  the support and change by the organization. At level 4, the change in  practice is investigated. Level 5 addresses the students outcomes.

Research questions

The research questions that guided study were:

  1. How is the intended workshop interpreted by its facilitators, or how are the intended workshop  and the implemented workshop similar and different?
  2. To what extent are the ingredients of the intended workshop and the implemented workshop supported by research literature?
  3. What does the realized workshop yield? At what level can the realized workshop  be evaluated, and what can we learn from the outcomes?


The first local workshop is a start-up workshop: a first introduction to PMRI for teachers, principals and teacher educators from a university. Half a year after the start-up workshop, there is a follow-up workshop to further empower and support the participants who started implementing PMRI.

Workshop context and participants

The implementation of a two-day start-up workshop took place at State Islamic University Jakarta (UINJ) on April 22-23, 2009 and a one-day follow-up workshop took place at State University Semarang (UNNES) on April 29, 2009. At UINJ, 46 participants were present at the end of the workshop: 20 lecturers, 10 teachers at primary schools, 2 both teachers at primary schools and lecturers at UNJ, and 14 students in mathematics teacher education. At UNNES,31 participants were present at the end of the workshop: 20 teachers and principals from 12 primary schools and 11 lecturers.

Data collection & Data analysis

To collect data, they gathered the existing PMRI-documents on “design principles of a workshop” for the intended workshop. Also, the final program for the workshop was used as data, and the description of the way the workshop was  prepared  and the activities were carried out for the implemented workshop. Data for the realized workshop were collected by quistionnaires at the start and the end of workshop.


In April 2006, the national PMRI team, together with Dutch PMRI consultants, decided on design principles for local workshop. In June 2006, the first local workshops were executed at several universities throughout Indonesia. The reflection on the workshops resulted in a supplementary on the document on the framework. The two documents together represent the intended workshop. In Jakarta, the implemented workshop was prepared by team of four facilitators: three Indonesian members of national PMRI-team and one Dutch PMRI-consultant. In addition, the workshop was executed by the four facilitators. The participants consisted of lecturers from UINJ, teachers from primary schools, and students from PGSD.

For the realized workshop in UINJ, there was reflections reflecting in a list of five characteristics of PMRI that participants made based on their experiences during the workshop. Moreover, at the end of workshop in UNNES, when they were asked what they would do with PMRI, most of teachers’ plans were shifted towards the direction of implementing.