03 SES 10 JS, Issues of Achievement and Curriculum in Mathematics Education
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 3 and NW 24
According to recent data, Portugal faces major educational challenges, especially underachievement in mathematics (EACEA P9 Eurydice, 2011; Pisa, 2012). It is difficult to identify with certainty why some students achieve while others fail. Achievement is a complex issue, and most researchers investigate individual or small sets of factors in an effort to make their investigations more tractable. One can find an array of research results pointing to cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, (e.g., locus of control, expectations, academic engagement, self-efficacy, and goal orientations) and environmental (e.g., poverty, parenting practices, learning contexts, peer influence, and teachers) factors that influence academic achievement (Carr, Borkowski, & Maxwell, 1991; Desforges & Abouchaar, 2003).
The purpose of this study was to understand academic achievement in middle school by giving voice to mathematics’ high and low achievers, focusing on instructional domains. In particular, we believe that this interview to ninth grade students, before the transition to high school, with a rich history of academic performance, offers a better understanding of the students interpretations related to their learning process over time (Hadwin, Winne, Stockley, Nesbit, & Woszczyna, 2001; Cleary & Chen, 2009).
According to various authors, the teachers’ support is typically a combination of emotional and instructional support, related with the structure of the activities and the social and emotional classroom environment. Some researchers suggest that the communication skills to interact with students are as important as mathematics knowledge. These positive student-teacher relations perceived by students have an impact in the motivation to learn and as consequence in the behavioral, emotional and cognitive engagement in mathematics, increasing classroom participation, self-regulated learning strategies, (e.g., search for help), social responsibility, and decreasing the disruptive behavior and drop outs (Ahmed, Minnaert, van der Werf, & Kuyper, 2010).
Based in TIMSS data analysis of different countries a strong influence of teaching strategies on academic achievement was found (Aslam & Kingdon, 2011). The same conclusions were presented by PISA (2012) even when controlling the socio economic and demographic features of schools and students.
The learning process as well as academic achievement are significantly affected by teachers’ classroom management behavior efficacy, since inadequate behavior is one of the major problems in our 20th century classrooms. Previous research indicates that assessment methodologies constrain the learning-teaching process and can represent a source of students’ control. New insights about teachers’ support, besides what we know from the literature, can be revealed based in the analysis of the similarities and differences between the speeches of these two contrasting groups (Butler, 2002).
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