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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Inside US Math and Science Classrooms

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.9 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.8 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Oct 19, 2004 by Teacher Education
Overview: Snapshots of mathematics and science education as they exist in classrooms in a
variety of contexts in the United States. As part of the study, researchers
observed 364 science and mathematics lessons in grades K-12 over a two-year
period from the fall of 2000 through the spring of 2002. Each observation was
followed by an in-depth interview with the teacher.
Learning Goals: The major purpose of Inside the Classroom is to show mathematics and science
classrooms in a variety of contexts in the United States. These snapshots
include both the instruction that takes place and the factors that shape that
instruction in the classrooms.
Target Student Population: The education research, faculty of education teaching, and policy communities.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Adobe Reader search functions are useful for finding and extracting information
from this report. For example, a search on the term ?biology? reveals that of
the 364 lessons observed, 21 were first year biology and 11 were second year
biology, with specific examples of both good and bad instruction in biology
classes easy to locate.
Type of Material: Adobe Reader report.
Recommended Uses: Prospective teachers or teachers in professional development programs can read
the report to identify particular qualities that distinguish ineffective
instruction from exemplary instruction. The material can be used to as a model
for qualitative research study design for teachers in graduate programs.
Technical Requirements: Adobe Reader

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This analysis of actual classroom observations designed to assess the quality of
the design and implementation of mathematics and science lessons from a sample
of schools representative of all schools in the United States is an important
source of evidence that should be used by students in graduate programs for
science and mathematics instruction. An interview of each of the observed
teachers reveals various factors that shape instruction.
Concerns: None

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths: The report provides evidence to share awareness that fewer than 1 in 5
mathematics and science lessons are strong in intellectual rigor; include
teacher questioning that is likely to enhance student conceptual understanding;
and provide sense-making appropriate for the needs of the students and the
purposes of the lesson. Overall, only 15 percent of lessons were judged to be
high in quality. Examples of both low and high quality lessons can help both
novice and experienced teachers identify better strategies for questioning and
sense-making focused on conceptual understanding, starting with group
discussions of other teachers? practice, and moving toward examining their own
practice to find new and better ways to engage students according to their
abilities and to provide opportunities for students to deepen their
understanding.
Concerns: The reported pattern of differential quality of instruction across types of
communities, in classes with varying proportions of minority students, and in
classes of varying ability levels is disturbing, but not surprising. Lessons in
rural schools tend to be lower in quality and lessons in classes with high
percentages of minority students tend to be lower in quality than those in other
classes. Apart from sensitizing teachers to these inequities, there is no
reason to think that this evidence alone would contribute to changing the
inequities.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The abbreviated (22 pages) and long (124 pages plus 232 pages of appendices)
version of this report make it easy to use in various contexts.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: The report suggests that starting with group discussions of videos of other
teachers? practice, and moving toward examining their own practice, lesson study
conducted with skilled, knowledgeable facilitators would provide teachers with
helpful learning opportunities to better engage students with the
mathematics/science content, ensure access for all students, use questioning to
monitor and promote understanding; and help students make sense of the
mathematics/science content. Video and questioning scaffolds to help teachers
address these issues would be welcome as new professional development materials!