Reconsidering the Study of Mathematics Instructional Practices: The Importance of Curricular Context in Understanding Local and Global Teacher Change

Abstract

This paper discusses the case of one teacher, Jackie, whose instructional practices illuminate the importance of textbooks and student/parent expectations in shaping pedagogy. Jackie teaches in the Plainview district, which offers parents and students a choice between a reform-oriented, integrated curriculum (Core Plus) and a more conventional algebra sequence (the University of Chicago series). Each day, Jackie teaches two very different sections of accelerated eighth-grade mathematics using each of these curricular materials. Drawing from students’ survey responses, classroom observations, and teacher interview data, we show ways in which Jackie’s pedagogy differs considerably between the two courses and we shed light on reasons underlying this variation.

By examining one teacher who enacts different practices in each of the two curricular contexts, this paper highlights factors that contribute to teachers’ enacted curricula – factors that have been understated in previous mathematics education research on teacher development. The study establishes the importance of distinguishing between global and local teacher change, and suggests implications for future studies of teaching and reform.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Center for the Studies of Mathematics Curricula (CSMC) where Drs. Herbel-Eisenmann and Lubienski are Research Associates and by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (Grant No. 0347906, Beth Herbel-Eisenmann, PI). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CSMC or NSF. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at PME-NA (2004) and AERA (2005).

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Correspondence to Sarah Theule Lubienski.

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Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Lubienski, S. & Id-Deen, L. Reconsidering the Study of Mathematics Instructional Practices: The Importance of Curricular Context in Understanding Local and Global Teacher Change. J Math Teacher Educ 9, 313–345 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-006-9012-x

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Keywords

  • contextual factors
  • enacted or implemented curriculum
  • reform
  • teacher change
  • teacher development
  • parents