Scholarly article on topic 'Study of the Thoughts of Math Teachers about the Content of Secondary Education Math Class'

Study of the Thoughts of Math Teachers about the Content of Secondary Education Math Class Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

CC BY-NC-ND
0
0
Share paper
OECD Field of science
Keywords
{"Secondary school mathematics curriculum" / "content element" / "teacher's views."}

Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Kenan Konur

Abstract The purpose of this study is to investigate the opinions of secondary school mathematics teachers on the content of the current mathematics curriculum in Turkey. Based on this general aim, the views of teachers on the appropriateness of the curriculum content and their advice for improving the efficiency of the content have been revealed. Research was carried out as a case study, which is a qualitative research method. The study group for the research consisted of nine mathematics teachers working in Turkish Ministry of Education secondary schools in the city center of Sivas during the spring term of the 2011–2012 academic year. The research data were collected through semi-structured interviews with the teachers in the study group and all of these were carried out by the researcher. Data were analyzed using a categorical content analysis technique via the NVivo computer program. According to the results of the study, teachers believe that the content of the Secondary School Mathematics Curriculum (SSMC) is aligned with the principles that have to be applied while choosing the content. However, they have alleged that the content of the program is not sufficient according to the principles of scheme (readiness), individual differences, validity and economicality. Based on the findings of this study, various solutions are offered for researchers, managers and program development experts.

Academic research paper on topic "Study of the Thoughts of Math Teachers about the Content of Secondary Education Math Class"

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

ScienceDirect PfOCSCl ¡0

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 93 (2013) 2152 - 2156

3rd World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership (WCLTA-2012)

Study of the thoughts of math teachers about the content of secondary education math class

Kenan Konur

Department of Mathematics Education, Faculty of Education, Cumhuriyet University, SiVAS, 58140, Turkey

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate the opinions of secondary school mathematics teachers on the content of the current mathematics curriculum in Turkey. Based on this general aim, the views of teachers on the appropriateness of the curriculum content and their advice for improving the efficiency of the content have been revealed.

Research was carried out as a case study, which is a qualitative research method. The study group for the research consisted of nine mathematics teachers working in Turkish Ministry of Education secondary schools in the city center of Sivas during the spring term of the 2011-2012 academic year. The research data were collected through semi-structured interviews with the teachers in the study group and all of these were carried out by the researcher. Data were analyzed using a categorical content analysis technique via the NVivo computer program.

According to the results of the study, teachers believe that the content of the Secondary School Mathematics Curriculum (SSMC) is aligned with the principles that have to be applied while choosing the content. However, they have alleged that the content of the program is not sufficient according to the principles of scheme (readiness), individual differences, validity and economicality. Based on the findings of this study, various solutions are offered for researchers, managers and program development experts. © 2013TheAuthors. Publishedby ElsevierLtd.

Selection and peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Ferhan Odaba§i Keywords: Secondary school mathematics curriculum, content element, teacher's views.

1. Introduction

The new Turkish Secondary School Mathematics Curriculum (SSMC) for grades 9-12 was developed in accordance with the curricula of developed countries, and was put into practice in the 2005-2006 academic year (TTKB, 2005). Beginning with the 9th graders, it was planned that the new curriculum would progress every year through a step-by-step process.

One of the most important responsibilities in the effective use of SSMC belongs to teachers. Therefore, teachers' perspectives on the program are very important for successful practices (Crawley and Salyer, 1995; Tobin, 1987). On the other hand, even after a program has started being used, its effects on individuals and groups and how much it has been understood by these people is as important as the program itself (Guler, 2003). Vari§ (1996) argues that studies related to the content during the program development phase have been underestimated and related studies are not enough. In addition, she emphasizes that it is erroneous to evaluate the content as a part "that may be added into program whenever wished". If we pay attention to the fact that

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Ferhan Odaba§i

doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.181

information is increasing day by day, it is necessary for us to determine basic rules for choosing the necessary information and how it is going to be presented to the students.

Although reforms in mathematics teaching are appraised, ideas, perspectives and behaviors of teachers, which are important parts of the education process, have been evaluated insufficiently (Amit and Fried, 2002). Since perspectives are important determinants of behaviors, teachers' perspectives are very important for successful implementation of the program (Blake, 2002; Austin and Reinhardt, 1999; Bybee, 1993; Kagan, 1992; Nespor, 1987). Related research studies (Sztajn, 2003; Polettini, 2000; Van den Berg, et al., 2000; Ponte, et al., 1994) show that teachers play an important role in the success of reforms.

This study aims to investigate the perspectives of teachers regarding the content of the education program using a qualitative method. It is expected that this study will contribute to the literature and will be beneficial for further program development studies.

2. Methodology

2.1. Research model

A qualitative research method, a case study, is used in this research.

2.2. Study participants

The "High School Mathematics Teaching Program Evaluation Survey" by Akozbek (2008) and "Perspectives on the Nature of Mathematics, Mathematics Teaching and Mathematics Learning Survey" by Yurday (2006) were administered to 164 high school teachers, working in Turkish Ministry of Education secondary schools in the city center of Sivas, during the spring term of the 2011-2012 academic year. Gathered data were analyzed and nine teachers have been chosen for the study group.

2.3. Data collection

In this study, the most commonly used method of data collection in qualitative research (Chadwick et al., 1984:102 as cited in Yildirim and §im$ek, 2008:119), the "semi-structured interview method", was used. The required data were gathered using the "Teachers' Perspectives on the Content of The Mathematics Teaching Program" scale used for understanding the opinions of teachers on the content of the SSMC devised by Konur (2012). Within the study, only the items related to determination of content were used. Items related to the principles for the determination of content were included in interview form. These principles are: scheme (readiness), individual differences, being scientific, relevance, usefulness, significance, validity, economicality (time and money) and compatibility with the contents of other courses.

2.4. Data analysis

The interview data were analyzed according to the categorical content analysis method.

3. Results

In terms of the "scheme (readiness)" principle, some teachers expressed that content of the program is above the developmental level of students. Some other teachers stated that it is suitable for average students' readiness level but not appropriate for the IQs and readiness levels of their own students. They expressed that this results from their insufficient education in primary school and its effects on their high school education. In addition, they expressed that there are problems with the readiness levels of students resulting from incoherence between YOK

(Institution of Higher Education) and MEB (Ministry of National Education) and this results in disconnectedness among programs.

Teachers identified subjects such as problem solving, modeling and expressing mathematically in relation to "individual differences". They expressed that subjects such as problem solving, modeling and expressing mathematically change according to students and the content of the program is not suitable for all students. They also expressed that there are differences among students of different schools (and among different schools) and the content of the program does not pay attention to individual differences based on school types.

In terms of the content "being scientific", teachers generally expressed that there are not any scientific mistakes in the program content but there are mistakes resulting from typographical errors. Some teachers expressed that there are not mistakes in the content but there are deficiencies in mathematical definitions and terms.

In terms of "relevance", teachers expressed that there are some hypothetical examples included that are not related to daily life. They stated that they give daily life examples in order to motivate them but students are interested in (and motivated by) university entrance exams. They expressed that students usually ask about the possible ways to use information in daily life and whether it is beneficial for them; however, the content is reported to not include enough information about this topic.

It was stated by most of the participating teachers that the content has "usefulness" and has been prepared according to the interests and needs of students. Teachers that expressed otherwise argued that students are focused on university exams and they need methods for fast problem solving. Therefore, students are not interested in the content and the content lacks what they need for university exams.

In terms of "significance", they expressed that they didn't have any problems in this area and results are compatible with presented item.

Most of the teachers expressed that the content lacks "validity" as it is out of date and traditional sub-topics are included. However, some teachers expressed that some modern sub-topic parts have been added and old ones have been extracted so it is more modern now and suitable for today.

In terms of "economicality", teachers expressed that the anticipated time to deliver the program is not enough and if the program is practiced in the required way, it is almost impossible to complete it on time. A few teachers expressed that four hours a week is not enough and offered doing extra practice lesson at school.

In terms of the "compatibility with the contents of other courses", namely geometry and analytic geometry, teachers expressed that the contents of mathematics and geometry are prepared in accordance with each other. Some teachers expressed discordance and showed the trigonometry sub-topic as an example. They expressed that they have some problems due to this discordance.

4. Discussion, conclusions and recommendations

Based on the opinions of the teachers participating in this study regarding the content of the program and its suitability in terms of to the necessary principles for its determination, the following can be concluded.

Most of the teachers expressed that the content is suitable for "scheme (readiness)". Some teachers expressed that the content is not appropriate for the IQs and readiness levels of their own students. They expressed that this results from their insufficient education in primary school and its effects on their high school education. Some teachers who think that some sub-topic parts of math teaching are above the readiness level of their students recommend that the order of parts should be changed or they should be extracted from the program in order to solve the problem. Similar to this, Yilmaz (2006) found that teachers have problems while carrying out the projects of the program and these results from the fact that projects are above the levels of students. Johnson and Howden (1987) also expressed that, while teachers were answering questions related to "individual differences", they were reminded of cognitive qualifications such as problem solving, finding relations, modeling and expressing mathematically (as cited in Yilmaz, 2006).

All the teachers confirmed the scientific credibility of the content.

Most of the teachers expressed that the program generally meets the need for "relevance" but there are some deficiencies. Some teachers expressed their discontentedness because students are focused on university exams and some teachers also behave according to this. In addition, teachers also expressed deficiencies in the relevance of the program for daily use and adding of content relating to this would be beneficial.

Parallel to Yilmaz (2006), teachers generally find that the content is suitable in terms of the "usefulness" principle. They also expressed a similar university-orientedness problem and showed that students' basic need is to solve problems fast.

Teachers expressed that the program has compatibility and suitability in terms of the "significance" principle. Similar to this, Johnson and Howden (1987) found that some teachers evaluate results so much that they find the content dense (compact).

Most of the teachers expressed that the content does not comply with the "validity" principle. They expressed that sub-topic parts have barely changed in years and the content is out of date. Teachers that expressed the program is modern show that the presentation of the content has been updated according to current methods and techniques, despite some static sub-topic parts.

Teachers generally expressed that the program is suitable for monetary aims but not suitable in terms of time, according to the "economality" principle. Some teachers showed that if the program is practiced as instructed, it is hard to complete it on time. Some teachers stated that they made changes according to the flexibility of the program when there was not enough time and they used extra time of a lesson for another lessons when necessary. Previous studies (Budak, 2011; Avcu, 2009; Me^in, 2008; Sarier, 2007; Yilmaz, 2006) also expressed concern about the insufficiency of time to complete the program.

They also generally expressed that the program is suitable in terms of "compatibility with the contents of other courses". They stated that the contents of mathematics, geometry and analytical geometry (which is added into geometry) are parallel, related to each other and also compatible with each other.

When the ideas of the teachers are analyzed, it can be seen that their ideas are generally positive. When we analyze their advice for improving the program, we see that they advice subjects related to both teachers and students.

Teachers that advised on subjects related to teachers focus on the elimination of exam stress for both teachers and students. They also expressed insufficiency in terms of time and recommended flexibility. In addition, they wish to be consulted before updates. They stated that a form or website (controlled by MEB) would be helpful for them to express their ideas. They expressed their lack of knowledge of material and program development and training for this would be helpful. Erdal (2007) also found that teachers had insufficient knowledge in this area and recommended further training. Orbeyi (2007) also shows that teachers have expressed a need for in-service training activities because they cannot leave old program practices and they need to make up for technological and material inadequacies. She also argues that teachers feel they need help from school management and parents of students.

Teachers that advised on subjects related to students focused on the consistency between the content of the program and university exams and expressed that questions in exams should be consistent with the content. They also expressed that there are too many sub-topic parts and some of them require specialized knowledge that is not necessary for high school education. Teachers stated that the learning outcomes should be determined according to types of school and department. Teachers also expressed the necessity to change the order of sub-topic parts and composition of mathematic classes. This finding is similar to Sirmaci's (2002) study, in which the program was evaluated according to the opinions of the teachers and it was concluded that the high school program is inadequate for the goals.

It is understood that teachers have similar problems and similar solutions for the problems of the program. These results are consistent with Akkaya (2008), who concludes that the opinions of teachers are focused on the practicability of the program. When we analyze the opinions of teachers in this study, we see (parallel to Orbeyi (2007)) that their ideas are positive. Teachers also shared recommendations for enhancing the efficiency of the content.

References

Akkaya, A. O. (2008). 6. Simf Matematik Ders Ögretim Programimn Uygulanabilirligine iliqkin Ögretmen Görüqleri. Yayinlanmami§

Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Osmangazi Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Eski^ehir. Aközbek, A. (2008). Lise 1. Sinif Matematik Ögretim Programimn CIPP Degerlendirme Modeli ile Ögretmen Ve Ögrenci Görüqlerine Göre

Degerlendirilmesi. Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Yildiz Teknik Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Istanbul. Amit, M., & Fried, M.N. (2002/ Research, reform, and times of change. handbook of international research in mathematics education. NJ:

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah. Austin, R. J., & Reinhardt, D. (1999). Philosophy and advocacy: An examination of preservice music teachers' beliefs. Journal of Research in Music Education, 47, 18-30.

Avcu, T. (2009). Yedinci Simf Matematik Dersi Ögretim Programimn Ögretmen Görüqlerine Dayali Olarak Degerlendirilmesi.

Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Osmangazi Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Eski^ehir. Blake, R. W. (2002). An enactment of science. New York: Peter Lang.

Budak, M. (2011). 2005 ilkögretim Matematik Dersi 6-8. Siniflar Ögretim Programina iliqkin Ögretmen Görüqleri. Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek

Lisans Tezi, Erzincan Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Erzincan. Bybee, R. (1993). Reforming Science education - social perspectives and personal reflections. New York: Teacher College Pres. Crawley, F. E., & Salyer, B. (1995). Origins of life science teachers' beliefs underlying curriculum reform in Texas. Science Education, 79, 611-635.

Erdal, H. (2007). 2005 ilkögretim Matematik Programi Ölfme Degerlendirme Kisminin incelenmesi (Afyonkarahisar ili Örnegi).

Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi, Kocatepe Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Afyonkarahisar. Güler, D. S. (2003). 4, 5 ve 6 Yaq Okulöncesi Egitim Programlarinin Degerlendirilmesi. Egitim Araqtirmalari Dergisi, 4 (13), 53-65. Kagan, D. M. (1992). Implications of research on teacher belief. Educational Psychologist, 27, 65-90.

Konur, K. (2012). Ortaögretim Matematik Dersi Ögretim Programinin Iferik Ögesine Iliqkin Ögretmen Görüqleri (Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek

Lisans Tezi). Gazi Üniversitesi Egitim Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Ankara. Me§in, D. (2008). Yenilenen 6.Sinif Matematik Ögretim Programimn Uygulanmasi Sürecinde Ögretmenlerin Karqilaqtiklari Sorunlar.

(Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi). Sakarya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Sakarya. Nespor, J. (1987). The role of beliefs in the practice of teaching. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 19(4), 317-328.

Orbeyi, S. (2007). ilkögretim Matematik Dersi Ögretim Programimn Ögretmen Görüqlerine Dayali Olarak Degerlendirilmesi.

(Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi). Onsekiz Mart Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Qanakkale. Polettini, A.F.F. (2000). Mathematics teaching life histories in the study of teachers' perceptions of change. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 765-783.

Ponte, J. P., Matos, J. F., Guimaraes, H. M., Leal, L. C., & Canavarro, A.P. (1994). Teachers'and students' wiews and attitudes toward a new

mathematics curriculum: A case study. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 26, 347-265. Sarier, Y. (2007). Altinci Simf Matematik Ögretmenlerinin Matematik Dersi Ögretim Programina iliqkin Görüqleri. (Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek

Lisans Tezi). Osmangazi Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Eski^ehir. Sirmaci, N. (2002). Ortaögretim Matematik Dersi Programimn Hedeflerine Ulaqabilme Düzeylerinin Ögrenci Baqarilari ve Ögretmen

Görüqleri Dogrultusunda Degerlendirilmesi (Yayinlanmami§ Doktora Tezi). Atatürk Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Erzurum. Sztajn, P. (2003). Adapting reform ideas in different mathematics classroom: Beliefs beyond mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 6, 53-75.

Tobin, K., (1987). Forces which shape the implemented curriculum in high school science and mathematics. Teaching and Teacher Education, 3, 287-298.

TTKB. (2005). Agustos 2005 tarih ve 2575 sayili Tebligler Dergisi, 68. cilt, 598. sf. 15.01.2011 tarihinde

http://www.belgeler.com/blg/1qa2/2005-fihristi-2 adresinden eri§ilmi§tir. Van den Berg, R., Sleegers, P., Geijsel, F., & Vandenberghe, R. (2000). Implementation of an innovation: Meeting the concerns of teachers.

Studies in Educational Evaluation, 26 (4), 331-350. Vari§. (1996). Egitimde program geliqtirme. Ankara: Alkim Yayinlari.

Yurday, H. (2006). Lise Matematik Ögretmenlerinin Yeni Ögretim Programina Yaklaqimlari (Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi).

Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi Fen Bilimleri Enstitüsü, Trabzon. Yildirim, A., & §im§ek, H. (2008). Sosyal Bilimlerde Nitel Araqtirma Yöntemleri (7.baski). Ankara: Sejkin Yayincilik. Yilmaz, T. (2006). Yenilenen 5. Simf Matematik Programi Hakkinda Ögretmen Görüqleri (Sakarya Ill Örnegi) (Yayinlanmami§ Yüksek Lisans Tezi). Sakarya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Sakarya.