Educating more effective math teachers for the future

Assumption College Undergraduate

bachelors in elementary educationHow much subject-specific instruction should a math teacher bring to the classroom?

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommends that elementary school teachers take college classes in five areas: numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics.

In 2012, 10 percent of elementary teachers met the standard of having coursework in all five of these areas, 57 percent had courses in one to two of these areas, and 1 percent had no courses in these areas.

Assumption College Elementary Education students must obtain a concurrent major of study in one of the following core academic disciplines: math, science, English, history or foreign language, as they pursue the Elementary Education Track within that discipline. (Education majors interested in the Education double major in math should consult with the Chairperson of the Mathematics Department and the Education Program Coordinator in the Education Department to plan a course of study.)

Researchers have begun looking closely at how math is taught, as early as first grade. Teams from the University of California, Irvine and Penn State followed more than 13,000 first-grade math students in 1,300 schools nationally.

They found that first-graders who scored in the bottom 15 percent on math tests  were more often subject to activities that have no evidence of fostering retention or improving performance.

They found that the only activity associated with gains in performance on an adaptive, untimed, one-on-one administered test is what we think of as traditional instruction. Namely, a teacher demonstrating how to solve a problem, followed by repeated opportunities for students to work by themselves, replicating the procedure with worksheets and drills.

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