Quantifying Curricular Reasoning as a Critical Practice in Teaching Mathematics (Collaborative Research: May-Sondergeld)

Teachers of mathematics engage in curricular reasoning as they design and interact with their students, choose curricular materials, and implement curriculum standards in the service of high-quality instruction. Currently, there is no shared measure of curricular reasoning of middle school teacher classroom decision making in mathematics. In this research project, the team develops and validates two measures of middle school teachers’ curricular reasoning in mathematics as practiced. The first measure looks at curriculum reasoning from the perspective of the teacher, the second measure attends to the perspectives of the mathematics education research community.

Full Description

Teachers of mathematics engage in curricular reasoning as they design and interact with their students, choose curricular materials, and implement curriculum standards in the service of high-quality instruction. Currently, there is no shared measure of curricular reasoning of middle school teacher classroom decision making in mathematics. In this research project, the team develops and validates two measures of middle school teachers’ curricular reasoning in mathematics as practiced. The first measure looks at curriculum reasoning from the perspective of the teacher, the second measure attends to the perspectives of the mathematics education research community. The research examines teacher self-assessment compared and aligned with those of professional observers (e.g., coaches, school leaders, and researchers) to establish the validity of the teacher self-report measure. The research establishes benchmark scores of teachers curricular reasoning in middle school mathematics, supporting increased interpretability and utility of the curricular reasoning score to improve classroom practice.

The researchers carefully examine four research questions: 1) To what extent does validity evidence support use of the Curricular Reasoning Self-Assessment Survey Suite for middle school mathematics teachers to measure their own curricular reasoning? 2) To what extent does validity evidence support use of the Curricular Reasoning Observation Assessment to measure middle school mathematics teachers’ curricular reasoning? 3) Is there a significant relationship between middle school mathematics teachers’ curricular reasoning when measured by the new curricular reasoning tools? 4) What benchmarks define different curricular reasoning levels on each of the two measures? The research team gathers validity data based on shared standards held by the American Psychological Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, and the American Educational Research Association. The research advances our understanding of teacher curricular reasoning through the development of the two measures. The work bridges research and practice as the researchers use self-report and observational evidence to support and improve teachers’ practice of curricular reasoning. The team uses Rasch psychometric tools for standard setting to improve the usability of the measures for classroom usage.

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