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What you expect is what you get: The impact of mathematics teachers' beliefs about students' capabilities on their practice


Beswick, K, What you expect is what you get: The impact of mathematics teachers' beliefs about students' capabilities on their practice, Proceedings of the 'Narrowing the Gap: Addressing Educational Disadvantage' Conference, 26 - 28 April 2007, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, pp. 121. ISBN 978-1-921597-01-5 (2007) [Conference Extract]


This paper draws together evidence obtained from several research projects conducted principally in Tasmania but also in the UK concerning the impact on teaching of differentiated teacher expectations of studentsí capabilities. Questionnaire data indicate that teachers hold different views about appropriate curricula and goals of mathematics teaching for different groups of students depending on their perceptions of the studentsí abilities, while interviews and observations illustrate the ways in which differing teacher expectations are played out in classrooms. Rather than suggesting simplistic or causal links between teachersí beliefs and practices, the paper draws on nuanced understandings of the content and structure of teachersí belief systems. In particular, evidence of the mediating effects of teachersí beliefs about the relative compliance of students perceived to be of differing abilities on teachersí pedagogical choices is considered. Implications for studentsí opportunities to achieve in the context of the explicitly or implicitly differentiated curricula that result from teachersí beliefs about them are also examined. The evidence illustrates that improvements in the mathematics achievement of relatively disadvantaged groups of students is dependent upon teachers believing that more is possible. With this in mind the characteristics of two approaches to encouraging desired change are also considered. One of these is a professional learning model instigated by researchers and the other driven by a head of department within a school. The paper will be framed by current understandings of the content and structure of mathematics teachersí belief systems and of effective professional learning for teachers.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:mathematics, Teacher Beliefs
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Teaching and curriculum
Objective Field:Teacher and instructor development
UTAS Author:Beswick, K (Professor Kim Beswick)
ID Code:67185
Year Published:2007
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2011-02-28
Last Modified:2011-02-28

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