Academic journal article Child Study Journal

Instructional Practices and Mathematics Achievement of Adolescent Students in Chinese Taipei: Results from the TIMSS 1999 Assessment

Academic journal article Child Study Journal

Instructional Practices and Mathematics Achievement of Adolescent Students in Chinese Taipei: Results from the TIMSS 1999 Assessment

Article excerpt

Recent assessments have indicated that students in several Asian countries have tended to score above international averages and there is considerable interest in instructional practices used for mathematics teaching in Asia. This study was designed to assess the relationship between instructional practices and mathematics achievement for a large national sample of students in Asia who were part of a comprehensive international assessment. Students included in these analyses were from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study 1999 (TIMSS 1999) International Sample (13-year-olds) from Chinese Taipei. Several instructional practices were examined and variance estimation procedures for complex sampling designs were employed. There were several significant findings from this study and these results identify significant relationships between classroom teaching practices and mathematics achievement. These results also extend previous findings by simultaneously assessing the effects of multiple instructi onal strategies and by examining students in a cross-cultural setting where high levels of mathematics achievement have been noted.

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There has been considerable interest in the study of instructional practices for mathematics teaching in Asia. Recent assessments have indicated that students in several Asian countries, such as Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, have tended to score above international averages (Kelly, Mullis, & Martin, 2000). In order to explore possible explanations for these achievement differences, an international study has been conducted to examine cultural factors, such as mathematics curriculum and content, student characteristics and learning styles, and instructional strategies (International Commission on Mathematical Instruction, 2000). Leung (2001) has considered East Asian approaches to mathematics and suggested that Asian students have been encouraged to use memorization as part of the learning process, have been expected to understand that success is dependent upon hard work and studying, and that Eastern cultural values tend to result in whole-class teaching and learning. For example, students in Chines e Taipei (Taiwan) have been found to spend more time on academic activities (such as after-school instruction and studying) than did American students (Fuligni & Stevenson, 1995). Similarly, Asian students were more likely than American students to have parents with high expectations and to express beliefs that academic success is achieved through hard work (Chen & Stevenson, 1995). Other research indicates that students in Japan have extensive practice incorporated into their daily schedule (Shimizu, 1998) and that they are required to complete more daily homework (Stigler, Lee, Lucker, & Stevenson, 1982). Results from an observational study of activities in elementary-school mathematics classrooms in the United States and Japan indicated that teachers in Japanese classrooms spent significantly more class time asking academic questions of the entire group while United States teachers asked significantly more questions of individual students (Stigler, Lee, & Stevenson, 1987). Mathematics classes in Japan may spend an entire period examining multiple facets of a single problem and teaching aids that can be manipulated by students are often used to illustrate how to use multiple problem-solving strategies (Sawada, 1999). Similarly, teachers in Japanese classrooms were found to provide students with more extended explanations in their mathematics lessons (Perry, 2000) and were more likely to give positive responses to students' answers in class, even if those answers were incorrect (Whitman & Lai, 1990). These findings suggest that there are cultural differences in expectations for student achievement in mathematics and in classroom practices and instructional strategies.

One strategy that has been used for mathematics teaching is the incorporation of cooperative learning activities into mathematics lessons. …

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