Institute of Education, University of London

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Subject Knowledge in Mathematics

Researchers: Patti Barber, Caroline Heal and Sarah Martyn (below left to right)

Research question
How does the Mathematics subject knowledge of initial teacher trainees develop? A study of the subject knowledge enhancement processes of a group of low scorers in a Mathematics subject knowledge audit.

Subsidiary research questions

  • What are the characteristics of this low scoring group?
  • How do they perceive the nature of mathematics learning during their teacher training, compared with their learning of other subjects?
  • Is ‘style of learning’ a relevant issue in investigating Mathematics learning for teacher trainees?

The Mathematics subject knowledge enhancement process

  • Trainees’ complete Mathematics subject knowledge self-assessment
  • Trainees begin self-study process
  • Informal peer tutoring
  • Formal Mathematics audit
  • Identification of highest (top 10%) and lowest (bottom 10%) scoring groups
  • Subject knowledge input with each of these groups (different emphasis?)
  • Feedback from tutors responsible for subject knowledge input
  • One-to-one peer tutoring (highest scorers matched to lowest scorers)
  • Peer tutors and peer tutees feedback on aspects of the peer tutoring process
  • Follow up to peer tutoring for lowest scorers – discussion and review of Mathematics subject knowledge portfolios

Approaches to data analysis

  • Analysis of data from the self assessment audit exercise and from the formal Mathematics audit
    • Analysis of item scores
    • Analysis of Feedback sheets
    • Analysis of feedback from ‘subject knowledge’ input tutors
    • Analysis of trainees’ Mathematics background/qualification
    • Analysis of gender and ethnicity
  • Interviews with sample of lowest scoring trainees.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • Improved support for trainees in their development of subject knowledge
  • Greater awareness and early identification of individual needs
  • Development of a wider range and more flexible use of learning strategies to meet learning needs.