Developing effective math teaching: Assessing content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and student success
The Mathematics Teacher Transformation Institutes (MTTI) project situated at Lehman College, Bronx, New York, attempts to develop math teacher leadership in Bronx middle and high school math teachers with at least three years teaching experience. It aims to do this in part by providing content, inquiry and leadership courses over a three-year period aimed at making them more effective teachers and hence teacher-leaders. We also hypothesized that effective teaching should have positive results as far as the students were concerned. For this study we used the extent of student engagement with their math classes as a measure of effectiveness. We assessed progress by monitoring participants’ math content knowledge, and observing their teaching practices, specifically their use of inquiry-based pedagogy in their classrooms, over time. We found that although participants’ math content knowledge increased over time, there was little relationship between our measures of math content knowledge and effective teaching. On the other hand, teachers who employed student-centered, inquiry-based pedagogy tended to be more effective as math teachers, at least if effectiveness is assessed by the extent to which their students were engaged in the lesson. We also found that we needed to re-conceptualize what constitutes math content knowledge and student success from the time we submitted our proposal.