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Kruskal Wallis

Kruskal Wallis

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Published by: gkmishra2001 at gmail.com on Oct 06, 2009
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Catherine P. Vistro-Yu
Department of Mathematics, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City
This article reports partial results from a study that investigated secondary school mathematics teachers’ beliefs and attitudes about mathematics. Using Ernest’s (1988) model, it describes what teachers believe about the nature of mathematics and about the teaching and learning of mathematics consistent with the instrumentalist, Platonist, and problem solving views of mathematics. A 47-item Mathematics Attitude Survey and a demographic questionnaire were administered to 57 high school mathematics teachers. Data analyses used the non-parametric tests of Friedman, Mann-Whitney, and Kruskal-Wallis and a non-parametric correlation test. Results revealed that teachers hold strong beliefs about mathematics that are consistent with the problemsolving view. There is a significant difference in the intensity with which public and private school teachers hold the instrumentalist view of mathematics. There is also a significant difference in the intensity with which relatively low- and high-scorers in the Licensure Examination for Teachers hold the instrumentalist view. Implications on how mathematics teacher education programs can be improved are discussed.
teachers’ beliefs, mathematics for classroom, teacher education reform, instrumentalist,Platonist, problem solving 
Ernest noted that the practice of teaching mathematics depends on a number of key elements(
The teacher’s mental contents or schemas, particularly the system of beliefs concerningmathematics and its teaching and learning;
The social context of the teaching situation, particularly the constraints and opportunities itprovides; and
The teacher’s level of thought processes and reflection.These factors determine the autonomy of the mathematics teacher and subsequently, also theoutcome of teaching innovations, like problem solving that depends on teacher autonomy for theirsuccessful implementation (
). The present study addresses the first key element – the teacher’smental contents or schemas including the system of beliefs concerning mathematics and its teachingand learning. Teachers’ mental contents or schemas include a) mathematics content knowledge, b)beliefs and attitudes displayed towards an object or a group of objects, and c) belief systems about thenature of mathematics and the teaching and learning of it. Although mathematics contentknowledge is important, it is not enough to determine teachers’ readiness or capacity to shift to moredesirable teaching approaches. Teaching reforms cannot take place unless teachers’ deeply heldbeliefs about mathematics and its teaching and learning change (
Theoretical Framework 
Teachers’ conceptions of mathematics are almost always interpreted in light of a philosophy or several philosophies of mathematics because these constitute their views, attitudes, beliefs, and
preferences about the nature of mathematics as well as the teaching and learning of mathematics.Ernest distinguished three possible conceptions of mathematics (
1, p.2 
) that relate significantly to aphilosophy of mathematics (
First of all, there is the instrumentalist view that mathematics is an accumulation of   facts, rules and skills to be used in the pursuance of some external end. Thus, mathematics is a set of unrelated but utilitarian rules and facts.Secondly, there is the Platonist view of mathematics as a static, but unified body of  certain knowledge. Mathematics is discovered not created.Thirdly, there is the problem solving view of mathematics as a dynamic, continually expanding field of human creation and invention, a cultural product. Mathematics is a process of  enquiry and coming to know, not a finished product, for its results remain open to revision.
Ernest further associated the above views to corresponding models of teaching in the aspectsof the teacher’s role, the intended outcome of teaching, and the teacher’s use of curricular materials(
). All these further reflect a corresponding learning model implicitly adhered to by the teacher.These aspects are embedded in a diagram (cf.
p.3) illustrating the specific relationships betweenteachers’ beliefs about the nature of mathematics and their models of teaching and learning. Table 1shows a likely set of significant associations and implications of one’s view about mathematics basedon Ernest’s model (
). This matrix, where the instrumentalist view of mathematics is at the bottom,appears to model a hierarchy. As shown by Table 1, a teacher who follows the instrumentalist view of mathematics willtend to take an instructor’s role in teaching where the main objective is for students to master theskills needed in mathematics. Performance is important because that is how an instructor candetermine if mastery has been achieved. To ensure this, teachers of this view would strictly follow theprescribed curriculum that is broken down into a hierarchy of specific skills to be learned. The basisof knowledge here is rules, not necessarily with understanding. There is an implicit belief that thecurriculum and the corresponding instructional materials offer the best formula for mastering skills;thus, instructions would tend to be very rigid.However, teachers who follow the Platonist view of mathematics would tend to take on anexplainer’s role in teaching. They tend to lecture and explain concepts, focusing on mathematicalcontent. They emphasize students’ understanding of ideas and processes, particularly students’understanding of the logical relationships of mathematical concepts. The objective of instruction isfor students to have a unified concept of mathematics and a consistency of ideas.The problem-solving view of mathematics is the highest in the hierarchy because such a view encourages learning by active construction of one’s knowledge. Teachers who subscribe to this view see themselves as facilitators of learning. As such, they would prefer to construct or develop theirown materials that would suit the needs and interests of their students. Their instructional objectiveis to develop more confident and better problem-solvers. This view of mathematics encouragescreativity and multiple approaches to learning a concept or skill.
 T  a b  l   e 1 
 T  e  a c  h  e  r  s ’   v i   e  w s  a b   o u t  m a t  h  e  m a t  i   c  s  a n d  t  h  e  i   r  i   m  p  l   i   c  a t  i   o n s  b   a s  e  d  o n E  r  n e  s  t ’   s  m o d  e  l   (   1  ,  p   p  . 2 - 4  )   .

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