Teacher guides in mathematics - a cross-cultural analysis
Textbooks and teacher guides are central to mathematics teaching and learning all over the world. In this study we analyze differences and similariies in how teacher guides communicate with teachers.
Mathematics textbooks and teacher guides are important for many mathematics teachers in the world. What kind of help can teachers get from the teacher guides? How is this help communicated to the teachers? In this study we analyze teacher guides from three countries (USA, Belgium and Sweden) to find out the answers to these questions. We also compare the results from the three countries to see what kind of differences and similarities can be found, and if this can be connected to regional or cultural traditions. The aim is to find whether the teacher guides focus more on prescribing what the teacher should do or on support to the teacher.
Mathematics curriculum materials and textbooks are used by elementary teachers around the world. They are commonly viewed as a primary tool for teachers’ instructional design and as “the links between the ideas presented in the intended curriculum and the very different world of the classroom” (Valverde et al., 2002, p. 55).
This study consists of a cross-cultural analysis of curriculum materials, focusing on the teacher guides in three distinct school systems: the United States; Flanders, the Dutch speaking part of Belgium; and Sweden. The focus of our analysis is on the voice of the text, defined as the ways curriculum authors communicate with teachers and what they communicate about (Remillard, 2005).
Theoretical framework When studying mathematics teacher guides we start from four design principles proposed by Davis & Krajcik (2005) regarding if a textbook or teacher guide is educative. This means that it is designed so that it might help teachers to a) attend student thinking b) attend mathematical ideas c) understand the design rationale for pedagogical choices and d) mobilize teaching materials in a specific classroom context.
Based on the mentioned design principles, the ICUBiT project in the U.S. developed a coding scheme for teacher guides. The codes are: 0 Providing Referential Information 1 Directing Actions 2 Design Transparency 3 Anticipating Student Thinking 4 Explaining Mathematical Ideas D Decision Making (Remillard et al, 2014). Codes 2, 3 and 4 are considered to be educative.
Method Teacher guides from the three regions are coded and analyzed to find and characterize the balance between educative parts and prescriptive parts (mainly code 1). The results from the analysis will be compared based on cultural similarities and differences in the mathematics classroom of the three regions.
To understand more about cultural differences an interview study with teachers from all three regions will be conducted. Here, the teachers will be invited to comment on examples from the teacher guides
Implementation The study will be carried out as an international collaboration. Each researcher will primarily work the the teacher guides from his/her own region. However, the analyses will be carried out in collaboration between the three researchers.
References Davis, E. A., & Krajcik, J. S. (2005). Designing educative curriculum materials to promote teacher learning. Educational Researcher, 34(3), 3-14.
Remillard, J. T. (2005). Examining key concepts in research on teachers’ use of mathematics curricula. Review of Educational Research, 75(2), 211–246.
Remillard, J. T., Van Steenbrugge, H., & Bergqvist, T. (2014). A cross-cultural analysis of the voice of curriculum materials. In the proceedongs from the International Conference on Mathematics Textbook Research and Development, Southampton (in press).
Valverde, G. A., Bianchi, L. J., Wolfe, R. G., Schmidt, W. H., & Houang, R. T. (2002). According to the book: Using TIMSS to investigate the translation of policy into practice through the world of textbooks. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer.