Alignment, Cohesion, and Change: Examining Mathematics Teachers’ Belief Structures and their Influence on Instructional Practices

Oct. 30, 2009

Source: Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Volume 12, Number 5 / October 2009, Pages 325-346.

This collective case study reports on an investigation into the relationship between mathematics teachers’ beliefs and their classroom practices, namely, how they organized their classroom activities, interacted with their students, and assessed their students’ learning. Additionally, the study examined the pervasiveness of their beliefs in the face of efforts to incorporate reform-oriented classroom materials and instructional strategies.

The participants were five high school teachers of ninth-grade algebra at different stages in their teaching career.

The qualitative analysis of the data revealed that in general beliefs were very influential on the teachers’ daily pedagogical decisions and that their beliefs about the nature of mathematics served as a primary source of their beliefs about pedagogy and student learning.

Findings from the analysis concur with previous studies in this area that reveal a clear relationship between these constructs. In addition, the results provide useful insights for the mathematics education community as it shows the diversity among the inservice teachers’ beliefs (presented as hypothesized belief models), the role and influence of beliefs about the nature of mathematics on the belief structure and how the teachers designed their instructional practices to reflect these beliefs.

The article concludes with a discussion of implications of teacher education.

Updated: Dec. 24, 2009