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Secondary mathematics teachers and local curriculum development Steblin, Victor Ronald

Abstract

This study sought to determine, by means of a questionnaire, the answers to the following research questions. 1. To what extent are secondary mathematics teachers in British Columbia currently participating in local curriculum development? 2. What are the attitudes of secondary mathematics teachers toward curriculum development at the local level? 3. What are the characteristics of teachers with respect to involvement in local curriculum development and attitudes toward local curriculum development? A special three-part questionnaire was constructed to answer these questions. The first part asked fifteen factual Yes/No type guestions about the current participation of mathematics teachers in local curriculum development activities. The second part of the questionnaire determined teacher attitudes toward local curriculum development through a 20-item Likert scale. The third part gathered descriptive data from the respondents. After a pilot study, the final questionnaire was sent to 200 secondary mathematics teachers randomly selected from the membership list of the British Columbia Association of Mathematics Teachers. The return rate for the questionnaire was 57%, and the Hoyt reliability estimate of the Likert scale was .86. Face validity of the Likert scale was determined by a panel of judges. Analysis on the first part of the questionnaire revealed that in general, there was a lack of support for curriculum development at the district, school and individual levels. In answer to question two, the attitudes of secondary mathematics teachers generally were favourable to local curriculum development activities as measured by the Likert scale. An examination of specific items revealed that teachers generally supported the provincial core program but were undecided as to whether districts should develop their own core. Furthermore, most teachers expressed a desire to be more involved in curriculum planning and indicated their willingness to serve on district and school curriculum committees. In answer to question three, the only characteristic of teachers that seemed to have some relationship to their attitudes was teaching level. Junior secondary teachers had significantly higher scores on the attitude scale than senior secondary teachers. The study found no significant differences between male and female mathematics teachers, between those with graduate education and those without, between teachers in small schools and large schools, and between teachers who were or were not department heads. Also, age, years of teaching experience and educational diversity did not have any significant relationship to attitudes. Recommendations were that more support be given for local curriculum development activities at the district, school and individual levels, that some form of provincial learning assessment program be used, and that teachers be allowed to choose their textbooks from an approved list. Final recommendations were that support of secondary mathematics teachers in local curriculum development activities should be directed to mathematics teachers as school groups at the junior secondary school level and that the attitudes of mathematics teachers toward local curriculum development should be further studied since only a small portion of the variance in their attitudes was explained.

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