Degree Granting Department
Generalizability Theory, Mathematics Education, Performance Assessment, Research Utilization, Routines of Practice, Teacher Education
Persistent lack of mathematics achievement and disparity in achievement has led to the publication of research findings related to equitable teaching practices. Although the publication of such research provides insights about approaches for potentially increasing equity in mathematics education, teachers must be able to apply what has been learned from these studies to their classroom teaching practices. Despite the widespread expectation that teachers use research-supported teaching strategies to meet the needs of their diverse classrooms, the research to practice gap persists. Little research is currently available to guide mathematics teacher educators in how to prepare future teachers to apply research to teaching practices.
Inspired by advancements in social work and other health-related fields, this study departed from the standard approach of preparing teachers to utilize specific, research- based teaching strategies to preparing teachers to engage in the meta-process of applying research to practice. This meta-process has been defined by the health-related disciplines as the process of evidence-based practice (EBP). This process is explicated in a conceptual framework that is composed of the following five steps. The practitioner (1) formulates an answerable practice question, (2) searches for the best research evidence, (3) critically appraises the evidence, (4) selects the best intervention for a specific practice context, and (5) evaluates the outcome of the intervention.
The purpose of this study was to examine the process of preparing preservice elementary teachers of mathematics to engage in the five-step process of EBP. Because this process, which can be conceptualized as a routine of practice, has not been identified for the field of mathematics education previously, it was examined using a design-based research (DBR) methodological approach. There were two objectives to the study: (1) to create an empirically tested teaching intervention that mathematics teacher educators can use to prepare preservice teachers to apply research to teaching practice and (2) to create a system of assessment that supports the teaching of this intervention.
The study involved five iterations of the DBR process that permited the intervention to be evaluated and revised after each iteration. Although each iteration is discussed, this study focuses primarily on the process used in the fifth iteration of the DBR process. This iteration took place in the context of a mathematics methods course in a clinically-rich, undergraduate residency program for initial preparation of elementary school teachers. The twelve participants were simultaneously enrolled in the methods course and embedded in co-teaching assignments at an elementary school.
The intervention to prepare teachers to engage in EBP included two workshops that were co-facilitated by an education librarian and a mathematics teacher educator and a semester-long Education Research Project. The project required participants to identify a problem of practice related to teaching or learning mathematics, find relevant research to address that problem, create an intervention to apply the research findings to classroom instruction, implement that intervention, and collect data to evaluate the effectiveness of the designed intervention.
Instruments used to collect data included: (1) a self-report Information Literacy Questionnaire, (2) a self-report Familiarity with the Process of Evidence-Based Practice in Education Scale, (3) the Education Research Project report, and (4) a standardized performance assessment. The standardized performance assessment was used to assess beginning proficiency with the process of EBP. Generalizeability theory was used to evaluate the reliability of the system created for the standardized performance assessment. The system that included three raters, two tasks, and two scoring occasions was found to be fairly reliable (absolute generalizability coefficient = .81).
Results from this study revealed that participants were more successful at creating implementation plans and linking those plans to research than they were at modifying their plans to meet the needs of specific students or evaluating their research implementation. This study contributes to both research and mathematics education communities' understandings about the potential of EBP as a high-leverage routine of practice and the use of generalizability theory in the creation of a reliable assessment to evaluate this routine of practice. This study documents the complexity of the process of linking research to practice and provides an empirically tested conceptual framework for preparing preservice teachers to engage in this complex practice.
Scholar Commons Citation
Van Ingen, Sarah, "Preparing Teachers to Apply Research to Mathematics Teaching: Using Design-Based Research to Define and Assess the Process of Evidence-Based Practice" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.