The interaction of professional development experiences, teacher reflection, and teacher beliefs on teaching practice in relation to the NCTM Standards: A perspective from five middle school mathematics teachers
The NCTM Standards documents (1989, 1991) promote a classroom culture in which students are engaged in doing, discussing, and discovering mathematics. However, mathematics instruction is often repetitive and does not involve students in interesting and relevant activities.
This study investigated changes in teaching practice of middle school mathematics teachers engaged in professional development activities aligned with the NCTM Standards. Teachers from a Northeastern, urban school district responded to the Standards Belief Instrument (SBI) and participated in a Level of Use (LoU) interview. A grid, using the SBI responses (y-axis) and LoU interviews (x-axis), was created. Based on results, 5 teachers were selected to participate in the study: quadrant one-2, quadrant two-2, and quadrant three-1.
Data was collected from February 1996 to February 1997. Classroom observations, pre- and-post interviews, video-tape, reflective journals, lesson plans, and student focus groups were the main sources of data.
The results indicated that teacher(s) in quadrant: (1) three- did not possess an understanding of the NCTM Standards, had a procedural understanding of mathematics, and professional development activities were enjoyed but not used, (2) two- possessed a limited understanding of the NCTM Standards, had a procedural understanding of mathematics, and incorporated some professional development activities, and (3) one- possessed a clear understanding of the NCTM Standards, had a procedural and conceptual understanding of mathematics, and used many professional development activities. Changes made in planning and classroom practice differed from teacher to teacher and mirrored Edwards' Teacher Change as a Reflective Cycle Model. Finally, teachers believed that constraints in implementing the NCTM Standards included a lack of time, materials, and student participation.
This study suggests that professional development experiences should provide teachers with models of Standards-based teaching and opportunities to reflect on teaching. Further, teachers in each quadrant have different professional development needs. Teacher(s) in quadrant: (1) three- need professional development experiences focusing on content knowledge and classroom models, (2) two- need to explore ways to incorporate a procedural and conceptual understanding of mathematics in classroom activities, and (3) one- need opportunities to interact and discuss with colleagues ways to teach mathematics.
0533: Secondary education
0530: Teacher education