Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2011, 63–75.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article reports on the effectiveness of a programme designed to enhance aspects of teacher knowledge believed to contribute to successful teaching for numeracy in the middle years of schooling.
The study addressed to the following research questions:
(1) What changes in teacher pedagogical knowledge for teaching numeracy were evident following a six-day continuing professional development programme in middle school numeracy? (2) What changes were evident in the beliefs and numeracy outcomes of pupils in the classes of the teachers involved in the programme?
(3) How did teachers perceive the effectiveness of the programme?
The continuing professional development programme (CPD), run in three consecutive years, was an initiative of Tasmania’s Department of Education (DoE).
The programme provided the opportunity for teachers to develop their own skill efficiency and conceptual understanding (Hiebert and Grouws 2007) and to consider how they could provide similar opportunities for their pupils.
In the third iteration of the programme, reported here, teacher profiling instruments and pupil surveys of their classes were administered at the beginning and end of the programme.
29 teachers and 677 pupils participated in the study.
Evidence from the teacher profiles and student surveys suggests that it was associated not only with teacher change but also with changes to students’ experiences of their mathematics classrooms and numeracy understanding.
This programme shows that progress can be made on pupils’ numeracy levels with a dedicated programme .
Furthermore, the changes in pupils’ perceptions of their classroom environments were encouraging and confirmed the claims made by teachers that they had changed their practices, particularly in asking pupils to explain their thinking.
There is also evidence that pupils were using concrete materials more in the classroom, most likely those supplied by the project or bought with money from the project.
All of this is consistent with the comments of teachers regarding their perceptions of the programme’s effectiveness.
The observed improvements in pupil performance reported here that accompanied the teacher changes suggest that the profile was indeed accessing knowledge that was relevant to teachers’ abilities to impact their pupils’ learning.
The outcomes of this programme indicate that improvement is possible. However, dedicated time must be provided for teachers to be challenged and assisted to extend their own mathematical thinking, to appreciate the typical thinking of pupils, to allow for planning to revise their teaching practices, and to reflect on change. Teachers and their pupils must change together. This programme has provided a model for potential success in initiating change and evaluating its impacts.
Hiebert, J.S., and D.A. Grouws. 2007. The effects of classroom mathematics teaching on students’ learning. In Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning, ed. F.K. Lester, Jr., 371–404. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.