Why Teacher Content Knowledge Matters: Research on the

Document Sample
Why Teacher Content Knowledge Matters: Research on the Powered By Docstoc
					                         Deepening Teacher Content Knowledge
Professional learning opportunities for teachers of mathematics and science have increasingly
focused on deepening teachers' content knowledge. Teachers' mathematics/science content
knowledge makes a difference in their instructional practice and their students' achievement,
according to a number of research studies. And data collected from expert practitioners has
implications for the design of state MSP projects aimed as deepening teacher content knowledge.

A. Evidence that Teacher Content Knowledge Matters

    1. Teacher content knowledge influences how teachers engage students with the
       subject matter.
In mathematics, more knowledgeable teachers were more likely to present problems in contexts
that were familiar to the students and to link problems to what students already learned. Teachers
who understood multiple representations of mathematics concepts were able to use these
representations to further students' understanding. In contrast, teachers with less mathematics
knowledge tended to focus on algorithms rather than on the underlying mathematics concepts.
More knowledgeable teachers tended to approach students' questions mathematically and solve
problems collaboratively, rather than looking up correct answers in response to students'
questions. Similarly, in science, teachers with deeper content knowledge were more likely than
those with weaker knowledge to pose questions, suggest alternative explanations, and propose
additional inquiries.1

    2. Teacher content knowledge influences how teachers evaluate and use instructional
       materials.
Knowledge of mathematics/science had a bearing on teachers' evaluation of instructional
materials. More knowledgeable teachers were more adept at identifying a coherent
mathematics/science storyline in materials, while less knowledgeable teachers struggled to do so.
In mathematics, content knowledge also had an impact on teachers' instructional decisions when
using materials. When teachers with limited content knowledge departed from their instructional
materials, they augmented with mathematical representations of their own choosing, which
tended to obscure or distort the concepts students were expected to learn. In science, when
planning lessons on familiar content, teachers had a sense of how to build a storyline by
presenting concepts in a logical sequence. In unfamiliar areas, they were aware of the need for
appropriate sequencing, but were unable to identify the key concepts.2

    3. Teacher content knowledge is related to what students learn.
Only a few studies have examined the relationship between teacher content knowledge and
student achievement in mathematics or science, and the results present a mixed picture. From
two studies in mathematics, a total of four relationships between teachers' content knowledge
and student learning were examined. In three instances, a positive relationship was found, for

1
  See A1 in bibliography for the research on how teacher content knowledge influences how teachers engage
students with the subject matter.
2
 See A2 in bibliography for the research on how teacher content knowledge influences how teachers evaluate and
use instructional materials.


Horizon Research, Inc.                                 1                                               June 2008
two cohorts of elementary grades students over a three year period and for grade 3 students'
learning of advanced concepts. In one instance, grade 3 students learning of basic concepts, no
relationship was found. In science, a total of three relationships between teacher content
knowledge and student learning were examined. In two instances, a relationship was documented
between teachers' content knowledge, both correct and incorrect, and their grade 8 students'
development of correct and incorrect understandings, respectively. In the third instance, high
school biology teachers' knowledge of the nature of science was not found to relate to their
students' learning about the nature of science.3

B. Insights on Designing Professional Development to Deepen Teacher Content Knowledge

     1. Professional development planners need to focus on a small number of important
        goals.
It is important that professional development planners choose a set of goals consistent with the
needs of the participating teachers and feasible to address within the time and resources
available. Whatever goals are chosen, professional development planners need to make difficult
decisions about how far they can go in pursuing those goals. Also, while a single well-designed
session can significantly increase teachers’ understanding of concepts where they have sufficient
prerequisite knowledge, they need to encounter new or particularly complex ideas in multiple
contexts in order to develop deep understanding.

     2. Professional development planners need to develop a plan for achieving those goals.
It is important to give explicit attention to how each planned activity is intended to contribute to
a particular goal or set of goals, enabling designers to go beyond activities that have the potential
to deepen teacher content knowledge to those that are likely to accomplish the goal(s). In
designing efforts to deepen teacher content knowledge, it is important to meet teachers where
they are, and provide opportunities for them to move forward in their understanding.
Professional development planners need to accommodate the fact that any group of teachers is
likely to have a range of understanding.

    3. Professional development planners need to decide on a sequence of program
        activities.
Some experienced program leaders argue that disciplinary content knowledge needs to be
addressed first; teachers cannot apply what they do not know, and it makes little sense to
consider student learning of the content before the teachers themselves understand it. Others
argue that disciplinary content and classroom applications need to be addressed in an integrated
fashion -- to motivate teachers to engage in the work, to enable them to apply what they are
learning to their instruction, and on efficiency grounds. It is likely that either approach can be
effective if designed and implemented well.

Additional data on deepening teacher content knowledge can be found at www.mspkmd.net




3
    See A3 in bibliography for research on how teacher content knowledge is related to what students learn.


Horizon Research, Inc.                                     2                                                  June 2008
                                         Bibliography

A1. Teacher Content Knowledge Influences How Teachers Engage Students with the
    Subject Matter

Alonzo, A. C. (2002). Evaluation of a model for supporting the development of elementary
      school teachers’ science content knowledge. Proceedings of the Annual International
      Conference of the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science. Charlotte, NC.

Anders, D. (1995). A teacher’s knowledge as classroom script for mathematics instruction.
       Elementary School Journal, 95(4), 311–324.

Brickhouse, N. W. (1990). Teacher beliefs about the nature of science and their relationship to
       classroom practices. Journal of Teacher Education, 41(3), 53–62.

Bright, G. W., Bowman, A. H., & Vacc, N. N. (1998). Teachers’ frameworks for understanding
        children’s mathematical thinking. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American
        Education Research Association, San Diego, CA.

Cai, J. (2005). U.S. and Chinese teachers’ constructing, knowing, and evaluating representations
         to teach mathematics. Mathematical Thinking and Learning An International Journal,
         7(2), 135–169.

Chi-chung, L., Yun-peng, M., & Ngai-ying, W. (1999). Teacher development, not accountability
       control, is the key to successful curriculum implementation: A case study of two primary
       schools in northeast China. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American
       Education Research Association, Montreal, Canada.

Chinnappan, M. & Thomas, M. (1999). Conceptual modeling of functions by an
      experienced teacher. Making the Difference. Proceedings of the Annual Conference
      of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia Incorporated.

Cunningham, C. M. (1998). The effect of teachers’ sociological understanding of science (SUS)
      on curricular innovation. Research in Science Education, 28(2), 243–257.

Fennema, E., Carpenter, T.P., Franke, M.L., Levi, L., Jacobs, V., & Empson, B. (1996). A
      longitudinal study of learning to use children’s thinking in mathematics instruction.
      Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 27, 403–434.

Fennema, E., Franke, M. L., Carpenter, T. P., & Carey, D. A. (1993). Using children’s
      mathematical knowledge in instruction. American Educational Research Journal, 30(3),
      555–583.

Fernández, E. (1997). The “standards-like” role of teachers’ mathematical knowledge in
       responding to unanticipated student observations. Paper presented at the annual meetings
       of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL.



Horizon Research, Inc.                          3                                        June 2008
Gess-Newsome, J. & Lederman, N. G. (1995). Biology teachers’ perceptions of subject matter
      structure and its relationship to classroom practice. Journal of Research in Science
      Teaching, 32(3), 301–325.

Heid, M. K., Blume, G. W., Zbiek, R. M., & Edwards, B. S. (1999). Factors that influence
       teachers learning to do interviews to understand students’ mathematical understandings.
       Educational Studies in Mathematics, 37, 223–249.

Lederman, N. G. (1999). Teachers’ understanding of the nature of science and classroom
      practice: Factors that facilitate or impede the relationship. Journal of Research in Science
      Teaching, 36(8), 916–929.

Lehrer, R. & Franke, M. L. (1992). Applying personal construct psychology to the study of
        teachers’ knowledge of fractions. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 23(3),
        223–241.

Leung, F. & Park, K. (2002). Competent students, competent teachers? International Journal of
       Educational Research, 37(2), 113–129.

Llinares, S. (2000). Secondary school mathematics teacher’s professional knowledge: A case
       from the teaching of the concept of function. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and
       Practice, 6(1), 41–62.

Lubinski, C. A. (1993). More effective teaching in mathematics. School Science and
       Mathematics, 93(4), 198–202.

Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics: Teacher’s understanding of
       fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
       Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Prawat, R. S., Remillard, J., Putnam, R. T., & Heaton, R. M. (1992). Teaching mathematics for
       understanding: Case studies of four fifth-grade teachers. The Elementary School Journal,
       93(2), 145–152.

Roehrig, G. & Luft, J. (2004). Constraints experienced by beginning secondary science teachers
       in implementing scientific inquiry lessons. Research Report. International Journal of
       Science Education, 26(1), 3–24.

Sanders, L. R., Borko, H., & Lockard, J. D. (1993). Secondary Science Teachers’ Knowledge
       Base When Teaching Science Courses in and out of Their Area of Certification. Journal
       of Research in Science Teaching, 30(7), 723–736.

Schwartz, J. E. & Riedesel, C. A. (1994). The relationship between teachers’ knowledge and
      beliefs and the teaching of elementary mathematics. Paper presented at the annual
      meetings of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, Chicago, IL.



Horizon Research, Inc.                           4                                        June 2008
Sowder, J. T., Phillip, R. A., Armstrong, B. E., & Schappelle, B. P. (1998). Middle-grade
      teachers’ mathematical knowledge and its relationship to instruction. Albany, NY: State
      University of New York Press.

Spillane, J. P. (2000). A fifth-grade teacher’s reconstruction of mathematics and literacy
        teaching: Exploring interactions among identity, learning, and subject matter. The
        Elementary School Journal, 100(4), 307–330.

Stein, M. K., Baxter, J. A., & Leinhardt, G. (1990). Subject-matter knowledge and
        elementary instruction: A case from functions and graphing. American Educational
        Research Journal, 27(4), 639–663.

Thompson, P. W. & Thompson, A. G. (1994). Talking about rates conceptually, Part I: Teacher’s
     struggle. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 25(3), 279–303.

Warfield, J. (2001). Teaching kindergarten children to solve word problems. Early
       Childhood Education Journal, 28(3), 161–167.

Wilkins, J. L. M. (2002). The impact of teachers’ content knowledge and attitudes on
       instructional beliefs and practices. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the North
       American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics
       Education, 24, 10.

Wilson, M. R. (1994). Implications for teaching of one middle school mathematics teacher’s
       understanding of fractions. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American
       Education Research Association, New Orleans, LA.

Zbiek, R. M. (1995). Her math, their math: An in-service teacher’s growing understanding of
       mathematics and technology and her secondary students’ algebra experience.
       Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International
       Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, 17, 9.

A2. Teacher Content Knowledge Influences How Teachers Evaluate and Use Instructional
    Materials

Lloyd, G. M. (2002). Reform-oriented curriculum implementation as a context for teacher
       development: An illustration from one mathematics teacher’s experience. Professional
       Educator, 24(2), 51–61.

Lloyd, G. M. & Wilson, M. S. (1998). Supporting innovation: The impact of a teacher’s
       conceptions of functions on his implementation of a reform curriculum. Journal for
       Research in Mathematics Education, 29(3), 248–274.

Manouchehri, A. (1998). Mathematics curriculum reform and teachers: What are the
      dilemmas? Journal of Teacher Education, 49(4), 276–286.



Horizon Research, Inc.                          5                                            June 2008
Manouchehri, A. & Goodman, T. (1998). Mathematics curriculum reform and teachers:
      Understanding the connections. Journal of Educational Research, 92(1), 27–41.

Manouchehri, A. & Goodman, T. (2000). Implementing mathematics reform: The challenge
      within. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 42, 1–34.

Sanders, L.R., Borko, H., & Lockard, J.D. (1993). Secondary science teachers’ knowledge base
       when teaching science courses in and out of their area of certification. Journal of
       Research in Science Teaching, 30(7), 723–736.

Sherin, M. G. (2002). When teaching becomes learning. Cognition and Instruction, 20(2), 119–
        150.

A3. Teacher Content Knowledge Is Related to What Students Learn

Hill, H. C., Rowan, B., & Ball, D. L. (2005). Effects of teachers’ mathematical knowledge for
        teaching on student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 42(2), 371–
        406.

Lederman, N. G. (1999). Teachers’ understanding of the nature of science and classroom
      practice: Factors that facilitate or impede the relationship. Journal of Research in Science
      Teaching, 36(8), 916–929.

Magnusson, S., Borko H., Krajcik J. S., & Layman J. W. (1992). The relationship between
      teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge and student content knowledge of
      heat energy and temperature. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National
      American Association for Research in Science Teaching, Boston, MA.

Mullens, J. E., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (1996). The contribution of training and subject
       matter knowledge to teaching effectiveness: A multilevel analysis of longitudinal
       evidence from Belize. Comparative Education Review, 40(2), 139–157.




Horizon Research, Inc.                           6                                         June 2008

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:34
posted:11/26/2011
language:English
pages:6