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.
Type of Material:
Adobe Reader report.
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.
Identify Major 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.
Evaluation and Observation
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.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
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.
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
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.
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!