Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Building a better math teacher

Date:
June 24, 2011
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
For years, it has been assumed that teachers -- specifically math teachers -- need to master the content they intend to teach. And the best way to do this is to take courses beyond that content. Yet new research does not support this common belief. There is little evidence that advanced courses in mathematics contribute to more effective teaching.

There is little evidence that advanced courses in mathematics contribute to more effective teaching.
Credit: AVAVA / Fotolia

For years, it has been assumed that teachers -- specifically math teachers -- need to master the content they intend to teach. And the best way to do this is to take courses beyond that content.

Yet in a paper published June 23 in the Education Forum of the journal Science, Dr. Brent Davis of the University of Calgary says research does not support this common belief. There is little evidence that advanced courses in mathematics contribute to more effective teaching.

"You know that feeling, when you try to explain to a child how to add multi-digit numbers, and you realize that it has become so obvious and sensible that you wondered why it ever seemed difficult?" asks Davis, a professor and Chair of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education.

"That's what you want to be an expert, and that's what you want to guard against to be an effective teacher. With years of practice and experience, it's easy to forget the difficulty involved for novices in coming to an understanding."

In his paper, "Mathematics Teachers' Subtle, Complex Disciplinary Knowledge," Davis argues that while recent studies stress the importance of teachers' explicit knowledge of mathematics course content, it is equally valuable for math teachers to be comfortable with the less clear, or tacit, knowledge inherent in mathematics as well. The challenge, says Davis, is to find a way to identify that knowledge.

Davis uses the example of multiplication to illustrate how teachers can apply implicit knowledge by using different approaches to explain the subtleties of mathematics to their students. When introduced to multiplication, the straightforward concept of repeated addition becomes more confounding with the incorporation more complex applications, such as multiplying by fractions or multiplying by negative numbers.

Davis believes if teachers are able to develop a deeper understanding of mathematics with their students, however, it may prevent student frustration in later coursework and prepare them to contribute within a knowledge-based economy.

"We can build a better math teacher" says Davis. "But it's more about engaging with one another to deconstruct concepts than about learning more advanced math or engaging in problem solving."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brent Davis. Mathematics Teachers' Subtle, Complex Disciplinary Knowledge. Science, 24 June 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6037 pp. 1506-1507 DOI: 10.1126/science.1193541

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Building a better math teacher." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623141323.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2011, June 24). Building a better math teacher. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623141323.htm
University of Calgary. "Building a better math teacher." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110623141323.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins