Educational support in lower secondary mathematics instruction; teacher quality, teacher characteristics and their interrelations

G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Ulrika Ekstam
Publisher: Åbo Akademi University Press
Place: Vasa
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-952-12-3580-1
eISBN: 978-952-12-3581-8


Abstract

This
study investigates educational support for lower
secondary mathematics instruction, teacher quality, teacher characteristics and
their interrelations. Particular emphasis was placed on differentiation
practices and teacher efficacy beliefs for teaching students in need of educational support in
mathematics. Previous research has indicated that among in-school
factors, the teacher has one of the greatest impacts on student performance.
Furthermore, high teacher quality has been recognised as a right
for all students, high or low performing. As teacher efficacy beliefs are noted
to be context and subject specific, this thesis sought to complement and extend
previous research in the field of educational support for lower secondary
mathematics instruction.

For studies I, II and III, answers from 27
special education teachers and 42 mathematics teachers in Swedish-speaking lower
secondary schools in Finland were received with an electronic
questionnaire. Different models of educational support and nine differentiation
practices in mathematics in lower secondary education were examined (Study I). The results indicated
that the most frequently used model for educational
support in mathematics was the pull-out model, and flexible student
grouping was used by almost all mathematics teachers in grade 9. Both special
education and mathematics teachers used the differentiation practices almost to
the same extent.
Studies
II and III focused on teacher characteristics and their relation to teacher
efficacy beliefs for teaching students in need of support. More specifically,
Study II examined the effect of teacher characteristics (certification,
experience and gender [mathematics teachers]) on teacher efficacy
beliefs. Study II also investigated mathematics teachers’ perceived pedagogical
knowledge for teaching low-performing students and
special education teachers’ perceived subject knowledge in mathematics. The
results indicated that special education teachers had higher teacher efficacy
beliefs than
mathematics teachers for teaching students in need of mathematics support.
However, mathematics teachers exhibited high self-perceived
pedagogical knowledge for teaching students in need of support, while special
education teachers self-perceived moderate subject
knowledge in mathematics. The relation between teacher efficacy beliefs,
certification and teacher experience on the use of differentiation practices
was also examined (Study III). The results indicated that level of teacher
efficacy beliefs was related to the frequency of use of differentiation in
content, the use of manipulative tools and for co-teaching.

Study IV investigated
how subject knowledge and individual interest in mathematics relate to teacher
efficacy beliefs for teaching students in need of educational support in
mathematics. The participants were
57 special education pre-service teachers at a Swedish-language
university in Finland. Teacher efficacy beliefs included three
sub-domains:
instruction, adapting instruction for different
needs and motivating students. The results from Study
IV indicated that interest in mathematics had a positive impact
on all three teacher efficacy beliefs sub-domains, while subject knowledge had a
positive
impact on only one sub-domain – instruction – and
only via interest.

The results from this
thesis indicate that teacher efficacy beliefs is an
important and complex teacher characteristic for teaching students in need of
support
in mathematics. As the main component of inclusive education, differentiation requires
teachers to
have various skills and abilities; therefore, cooperation
between special education and mathematics teachers should be encouraged and
supported.




























Keywords

Differentiation, mathematics, Special education, Teacher efficacy beliefs


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Last updated on 2019-22-09 at 04:40