03 SES 10 JS, Issues of Achievement and Curriculum in Mathematics Education
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 3 and NW 24
In comprehensive meta-studies of educational research, a close relationship between affective factors, motivational factors and student proficiency in mathematics is reported (Marzano, 2003; Hattie, 2009). These findings are supported in large scale international studies like PISA and TIMSS (Mullis, Martin & Foy, 2008; OECD 2010). An urgent challenge within educational research is therefore to discover and examine key factors that seem to support student development of positive attitudes towards mathematics.
The main ambition of the current analysis is to investigate the relation between variation in instructional practices and student attitudes to mathematics in Norwegian lower secondary classrooms. The research question is:
How does instructional variation seem to influence student’s attitudes towards mathematics?
The analysis is based on data from the PISA+ Video Study and the TIMSS 2007 Study. In both these studies, which have quite different designs, data about classroom instruction in mathematics and student attitudes to mathematics were collected. PISA+ provides video data of mathematics lessons that through coding can be used to examine the degree of instructional variation, and interview data that gives information about students’ attitudes to mathematics. One important instrument in the TIMSS Study design is the Student Questionnaire. Some of the questions and propositions that are formulated in this Questionnaire afford information about students’ attitudes to mathematics and others provide data about various aspects and qualities of instruction, for example the frequency of certain activities taking place during mathematics lessons. Based on these data sources, the two constructs “student attitudes to mathematics” and “instructional variation” were developed and a positive correlation between the constructs was found. It should be mentioned that the values of the two TIMSS’ constructs are computed on the basis of only the Norwegian 8th grade students’ answers.
One approach to research on motivational factors and achievement has been to study this theme in relation to aspects of teaching quality. Operationalizing teaching quality is challenging, and has been done in various ways in educational studies within mathematics, i.e. as “time on task” (Berliner, 1987), variation in content coverage (Rowan, Harrison &
Hayes 2003), the use of higher order questioning (Kilpatrick, Swafford & Findell, 2001; Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2009), the quality of instructional conversations (Cobb, Yackel & McClain, 2000; Sfard, 2000) or more generally by contrasting the use of reform based instructional methods to traditional or conventional teaching methods, i.e. “direct teaching”, review and practice of routine mathematical skills (Boaler, 2002).
An aspect of teaching quality that often is debated within mathematics education, and which is strongly recommended, is to vary the working methods applied in the classroom (Resnick & Harwell, 2000; Kilpatrick, Swafford & Findell, 2001; Boaler, 2002). From studies using student interviews it is often reported that many students themselves express that they would have preferred that the mathematics lessons were less monotonous and more varied (Boaler, 2002; Nardi & Steward, 2003; Lee & Johnston-Wilder, 2013). Nevertheless, few studies have tried to operationalize variation as an aspect of teaching quality and make inquiries into its effect on student attitudes. An important objective of the current study is to make a contribution in this respect.
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