Navigating the Challenges of Student-Centered Mathematics Teaching in an Urban Context
Guided by the “constructivism in practice” dilemmas framework developed by Windschitl (Rev Educ Res 72(2):131–175, 2002) we investigated the conceptual, pedagogical, cultural, and political barriers that 24 K-12 mathematics teachers working in a high-poverty urban school district in Texas encountered when trying to implement student-centered teaching practices learned through a rigorous professional development program. Themes that emerged from this qualitative analysis included barriers concerning lack of awareness of constructivist theory, difficulties facilitating student-centered activities in the classroom, poverty, lack of instructional autonomy, and high-stakes testing. Identifying a wide breadth of barriers to student-centered teaching may inform teacher educators and school administrators working in urban contexts in developing strategies to overcome these obstacles.
KeywordsHigh-stakes tests Mathematics teachers Professional development Constructivism Poverty
This study is based, in part, on a project partially funded by Teacher Quality Grants Program at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board under Grant #531. The Teacher Quality Grants Program is supported through federal funds under NCLB Title II, Part A. We would like to thank Christopher Brehm, Seth Berggren, and Sherry Ning for their assistance in transcribing interviews.
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