Secondary Mathematics Teachers' Curriculum Philosophies and Experience
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Teachers beliefs about education greatly influence what they teach students. In light of current reform movements in mathematics education and the critical shortage of qualified mathematics teachers, it is important to understand teachers curriculum philosophies as well as how those philosophies change. This study examined relationships between teachers' curriculum philosophies and their teaching experience. Using Michael Schiro's (2008) and Paul Ernests (1991) curriculum ideologies as the framework, secondary mathematics teachers in Texas responded to a researcher-designed inventory with an ipsative format, which was used to identify the composition of teachers' philosophies. The development of the Mathematics Teacher Philosophy Inventory included many measures of reliability and validity, each analyzed using various statistical methods and qualitative analysis of teachers reactions to the survey.
An advanced visualization tool was developed to represent the composition of teachers philosophies in a three-dimensional space, which aided in the exploration and analysis of teachers philosophies and how those philosophies relate to their experience. This visualization tool relied on a compositional coordinate system, classification of philosophies into regions defined by combinations of ideologies, and a detailed understanding of the distribution of possible scores for the inventory. It was useful in recognizing patterns, understanding similarities between attributes of teachers with similar philosophies, and presenting results.
Analysis of relationships between teachers' curriculum philosophies and teaching experience was performed using a combination of statistical methods including chi-squared and ANOVA tests of independence and multiple regression techniques. The analysis was performed for the overall philosophies as well as philosophies about each of the following aspects: Purpose of Education, View of Mathematics, Purpose of Mathematics, Teaching, Learning, Nature of Knowledge, Nature of Childhood, and Evaluation. General trends for the population of secondary mathematics teachers showed definite agreement with one ideology over others, which varied among the different aspects of teachers' philosophies. The following attributes of teachers regarding their teaching experience were conclusively related to their curriculum philosophies: years of teaching experience, years at their current school, whether they taught middle school or high school, administrative experience, and formal mentoring experience. The relationships of each of the attributes also varied among the different aspects of teachers philosophies.