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The relationship between selected teacher variables and growth in arithmetic in grades four, five and six Prekeges, Demitrios Peter

Abstract

For many years mathematicians and mathematics educators have been stating that teachers of arithmetic need a greater knowledge in mathematics and methods of teaching mathematics. Many colleges have required more mathematics for their future elementary teachers. The belief is that an individual with a stronger mathematical background will better teach mathematics to his elementary students. The review of the literature as a whole does not agree. Few researchers have found significant relationships between teacher knowledge and teacher effectiveness. The review of the literature further indicates that most researchers did not measure teacher variables precisely. Also, most researchers neither partitioned nor measured directly student growth. They used standardized tests or administrative ratings to determine teacher effectiveness. Procedures Two instruments were constructed to measure teacher understanding and teacher attitude. The test of understanding was designed to measure the mathematical understandings as related to the arithmetic series and syllabus of the two school districts participating in this study. The attitude inventory was a forced choice inventory which measured the teacher's attitude toward contemporary mathematics as opposed to traditional mathematics. Each participating teacher also completed a questionnaire giving information about 12 other commonly reported variables. These were in the areas of quarter hours of college mathematics, quarter hours of new mathematics, quarter hours of mathematics methods, experience, and principal's ratings as he viewed the teachers. To determine teacher effectiveness, student tests were constructed to directly measure the material of the arithmetic series and syllabus of the two school districts participating in this study. Three tests were constructed for each grade level; an understanding test, a problem solving test, and a computation test. The pre-test post-test procedure was used to determine student growth. The population for this study was 61 fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes and their 61 teachers. The population was randomly selected from over 400 teachers in two Washington State school districts. The districts used the same arithmetic series and a similar syllabus, but are in different geographic locations. Results and Conclusions With the minor exception of a significant correlation between principal's rating and growth in computation, there were no significant relationships between any of the teacher variables, when taken individually or in groups, and student growth in any of the three areas—understanding, problem solving, and computation—when taken individually or in groups. In this study, every effort was made to eliminate the deficiencies of previous studies. Yet their results are, in general, confirmed. If mathematicians and mathematics educators are to persist in their opinion that the educational background of teachers is related to student gains, then it seems that different independent variables must be identified. It seems highly unlikely that success would reward any further exploration of those identified in this study,

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