Forty K-8 teachers participated in small, in-depth, facilitated discussions about "pressure points" in the curriculum. We define a pressure point as a topic, skill, or concept that is crucial to future mathematics learning but which many or most students do not master to the extent expected at a given grade level. They are issues that persist from one grade level to the next; eventually they impair the ability of students to succeed in technical disciplines. The teachers identified a number of pressure points; we focus on an understanding of place value and "reasonableness" of answer as two examples that were identified across all grade levels. Our small-scale study represents one approach to integrating teachers into the process of identifying important and relevant research questions in mathematics learning. We argue that the pressure points identified by teachers are areas in which targeted research would have maximum impact on learning and teaching, from teacher preparation to targeted diagnostic tools to student success rates.
Rheinlander, Kim, Dorothy Wallace, Wells Morrison, Daniel Ansari, Donna Coch, and B. V. Williams. "Teachers Talk: Pressure Points in the K-8 Mathematics Curriculum." Numeracy 1, Iss. 1 (2008): Article 4. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1936-46184.108.40.206
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