Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Teacher Education

Major Professor

Jo Ann Cady

Committee Members

Jennifer A. Morrow, Stergois Botzakis, Yujeong Prark

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to investigate the relationship between teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and student growth on the Aimsweb Mathematical Computation (M-COMP) screening assessment. District participation in a structured Response to Intervention (RtI) program, provided the opportunity to fill a gap in the research by placing an intentional focus on the relationship between both classroom teachers’ and interventionists’ MKT and students who struggle. Students were classified as struggling if they scored below a certain level on the M-COMP, qualifying them to receive interventions as part of the RtI program. This study included 20 classroom teachers, 4 interventionists and their 485 students in a moderate sized district in Tennessee. Student inclusion in the study was dependent on their teacher’s completion of the subject matter MKT survey.

To determine the relationship between teachers’ and interventionists’ MKT and student growth, several quantitative analyses were used. The analysis revealed a significant negative correlation between classroom teachers’ MKT and student growth (p<.01), when looking at all students, indicating that higher classroom teacher MKT may result in less student growth. However, the strength of that relationship was small, rendering it insignificant for practical purposes. Additionally, struggling students’ growth was also negatively correlated (p<.01) with classroom teachers’ MKT, but there was no significant relationship between interventionists’ MKT and struggling students’ growth.

Classroom observations of teachers at different levels of subject matter MKT and interventionists with different levels of pedagogical training provided insight into the relationship between MKT and teachers’ or interventionists’ instructional practice. An analysis of questions asked by teachers during those observations indicated that teachers with higher levels of MKT asked more questions and gave their students more opportunities to reason. However, one teacher who scored low on the subject matter MKT but had more focused training in math pedagogical content knowledge, was able to compensate for the deficiency in subject matter knowledge. Conversely, the uncertified interventionists who had high levels of subject matter MKT were not able to compensate for their lack of pedagogical training.

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