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Status of Middle School Mathematics Teaching. 2000 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education Dawayne Whittington Horizon Research, Inc. The Survey. Based on the responses of 634 middle school mathematics teachers Selected schools were located throughout the country.

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Status of Middle School Mathematics Teaching

2000 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education

Dawayne Whittington

Horizon Research, Inc.

the survey
The Survey
  • Based on the responses of 634 middle school mathematics teachers
  • Selected schools were located throughout the country.
the typical middle school mathematics teacher
The Typical Middle School Mathematics Teacher
  • Is a white female.
  • May have a Master’s degree.
  • May be retiring in the next 10 years.
  • Age categories were balanced.
preparation for teaching middle school mathematics
Preparation for Teaching Middle School Mathematics
  • Nearly three-fourths of middle school mathematics teachers received their undergraduate degree in areas other than mathematics or mathematics education.
  • Roughly two-thirds have taken 8 or more courses in mathematics (the equivalent of a minor.)
  • Most have had college coursework in general teaching methods (92%) and methods of teaching mathematics (78%).
preparation for teaching middle school mathematics6
Preparation for Teaching Middle School Mathematics
  • NCTM recommends that middle school teachers have college coursework in the following areas:
  • Abstract Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Calculus
  • Probability and statistics
  • Applications of mathematics/ problem solving
  • History of Mathematics
preparation for teaching middle school mathematics7
Preparation for Teaching Middle School Mathematics
  • Here’s how current middle school teachers stack up with these courses:
  • Abstract Algebra (22%)
  • Geometry (47%)
  • Calculus (43%)
  • Probability and statistics (56%)
  • Applications of mathematics/problem solving (27%)
  • History of Mathematics (16%)

In addition, the data indicate that approximately 1 of every 4 middle school math teachers have not had any of these recommended courses.

Only 11% reported that they had coursework in five of these six recommended areas.

teacher perceptions of their preparation
Teacher Perceptions of Their Preparation
  • Teachers feel at least adequately qualified to teach these topics:
  • Numeration and number theory
  • Computation
  • Estimation
  • Pre-algebra
  • Patterns and relationships
  • Geometry
  • Probability
  • Data collection and analysis
  • They felt less than adequately qualified to teach these topics:
  • Functions
  • Statistics
  • Topics from discrete math
  • Calculus
  • Mathematical structures
  • Using technology in instruction
teachers perceptions of pedagogy
Teachers’ Perceptions of Pedagogy
  • NCTM Standards:
  • Familiarity with Standards - 83%
  • Agree with Standards – 76%
  • Implement the Standards – 79%
  • Use of Instructional Strategies:
  • Encourage female participation in mathematics - 95%
  • Use questioning to gauge understanding– 91%
  • Use cooperative groups – 86%
  • Use hands-on project-based work – 77%
  • Use technology to gather/analyze data – 65%
  • Involve parents – 54%
  • Use Internet for general reference – 37%
  • Teach students with limited English – 22%
  • Use Internet for collaborative projects – 22%
professional development
Professional Development

Eighty percent (80%) of middle school teachers report a need for professional development in the use of technology in mathematics instruction.

professional development11
Professional Development

Middle school teachers also feel a need for professional development in using inquiry-based instruction (65%), teaching students with special needs in the regular classroom (60%), on understanding student thinking (46%), assessing student learning (36%), and to deepen their own content knowledge (31%).

professional development12
Professional Development
  • Only 31% reported spending more than 35 hours in mathematics-related professional development in the last three years.
  • The workshop is the most common form of professional development.
  • Fewer than a third have attended a state or national conference.
  • Only 24% have taken a formal college/university course. Almost half have not taken one since 1990.
typical middle school classroom
Typical Middle School Classroom
  • Has 22 students with equal numbers of males and females.
  • Non-Asian minorities make up 28% of the class.
  • Heterogeneous classes with at least two or more ability levels make up 38% of all middle school mathematics classes.
middle school mathematics instruction
Middle School Mathematics Instruction
  • Middle school math teachers report placing a heavy emphasis on these objectives:
  • Learning mathematical concepts (88%)
  • Learning how to solve problems (81%)
  • Learning to reason mathematically (71%)
  • Developing computational skills (57%)
  • Preparing for standardized tests (34%)
  • Learning about the history and nature of mathematics (3%)
middle school instructional strategies
Middle School Instructional Strategies
  • Teachers report that they place a heavy emphasis on conceptual understanding and mathematical reasoning.
  • However, the data indicates that the predominant instructional strategies involve students answering textbook or worksheet questions.
  • Discussions were a part of the lesson in 91% of the classes reported.
  • Mathematical communication through writing reflections never occurs more than 1/3 of math classes.
  • Using manipulatives and working in small groups each only account for 10% of the class period.
  • Computers are predominantly used for drill and practice.
instructional resources
Instructional Resources
  • The vast majority of teachers (91%) report using the textbook to guide instruction. Most rated these as good to excellent and reported that they covered 75% of the material.
  • Most math teachers use an overhead projector.
  • The most popularly used calculator is the four function calculator. It is surprising that 62% of respondents indicated that graphing calculators were not needed.
  • Only 10% of teachers expressed a need for equipment such a calculator/computer interfacing device that was unavailable.
implications
Implications
  • There is a need for many middle school mathematics teachers to upgrade their skills.
  • Incorporating the use of technology into mathematics instruction is seen as the most pressing need for professional development.
  • Although most teachers report an awareness and agreement with the NCTM Standards, their current practices do not reflect their implementation.
  • Teachers rely heavily on rote drill and practice to strengthen students’ conceptual understanding, although this practice may be ill-suited to this purpose.