The Mathematics Education of Future Primary and Secondary Teachers: Methods and Findings from the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics

Mar. 01, 2011

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 62(2), p. 121-137. (March/April, 2011). 
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This paper reports on the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M).
TEDS-M is a large quantitative comparative study that investigated the mathematics preparation of primary and secondary school teachers in 17 countries: Botswana, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), Georgia, Germany, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United States.

TEDS-M was conducted under the auspices of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and was managed by a team of researchers at Michigan State University and the Australian Council for Educational Research.

Rationale and Goals of TEDS-M

TEDS-M aimed to study in a group of countries how primary and secondary school mathematics teachers learn to teach subject matter content effectively to a wide variety of students as a result of their preparation programs.

This study explored three major research questions:
1. What intended and implemented policies support the development of prospective primary and lower secondary teachers’ knowledge of mathematics as well as related teaching knowledge?
2. What learning opportunities are available to prospective mathematics teachers that allow them to attain such knowledge?
3. What level and depth of mathematics and related teaching knowledge attained by prospective primary and lower secondary teachers enable them to teach the kind of demanding mathematics curricula currently found in the higher achieving countries and required by the higher standards adopted by many states?

Participants and Instrument
The TEDS-M surveyed selected samples from four populations in teacher education systems: 15,163 future primary teachers; 9,389 future secondary teachers; 500 teacher preparation institutions; and 4,837 teacher educators.
The questionnaires for both primary and secondary future teachers included a common set of questions about their backgrounds; opportunities to learn; and beliefs about mathematics, teaching, and learning.
In addition, each questionnaire had items to assess mathematics knowledge for teaching appropriate for that level.

Conclusions and Implications

The first finding from TEDS-M was the variation in structure of teacher education systems. The findings show that TEDS-M is able to present analysis which shows the strengths of teacher preparation systems in different countries relative to future teachers’ knowledge, while staying sensitive to local variations in programs’ intents.

A second notable finding is the variation in mathematics content knowledge (MCK) even within program groups.
Differences between countries within program groups tended to be larger among the secondary groups than among the primary groups.

TEDS-M shows that it is possible to design sampling plans for teacher education that are sensitive to local conditions and meet high technical quality standards for comparative research.

Furthermore, TEDS-M contributes to building an international database.
The database and its documentation provide a shared language and, with the anchor point descriptions, shared benchmarks for examining teacher preparation programs in light of what has proved possible in some contexts.

In conclusion, the authors recommend that teacher educators and policy makers should pay attention to the emphasis, kind, and depth of the opportunities to learn provided to future teachers.

Updated: Oct. 29, 2012