Elementary school mathematics: Factors affecting strategies and materials for instruction
This study examined the strategies and materials used by elementary mathematics teachers and the factors that affected their use. New York State elementary school teachers were selected randomly to respond to a 65 item survey. The survey elicited their responses about the instructional strategies and materials they used to teach elementary school mathematics and the factors that influence their choices. A return rate of 85.4% was realized with 413 completed surveys suitable for analysis. Responses to items for the 20 strategies and materials were used to construct a scale representing teachers' use of contemporary instructional practices. This scale constituted the dependent variable. Teachers' responses to three items representing each of 12 factors were used to construct a scale measuring teachers' response to each of the factors. These 12 factors constituted the independent variables. Frequencies, means, and standard deviations were used to ascertain the level of use for each of the strategies and materials. Factor analysis was used to examine the structure of the elements of both the dependent and independent variables. The relationship between the dependent variable and the 12 independent variables was explored using stepwise regression.
Major conclusions and implications: (1) The most frequently used instructional strategy for mathematics in the elementary classroom is teacher-centered whole-class instruction. (2) Other frequently used strategies and materials include worksheets/workbooks/skillbooks, manipulative materials, problem solving, and the textbook. (3) The least frequently used strategies included student interviews, calculators, portfolio assessment, grouping by ability, and class presentations. (4) The regression analysis identified a significant relationship between pedagogical knowledge, textbook use, knowledge of how mathematics is learned, course work taken, and metacognitive knowledge and the use of contemporary strategies and materials. This analysis indicated that these factors were important influences in teacher decisions about which strategies and materials were used in elementary school mathematics instruction.
0524: Elementary education