Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Teacher Instruction, Student Attitudes, and Mathematics Performance among 10th and 12th Grade Black and Hispanic Students

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Teacher Instruction, Student Attitudes, and Mathematics Performance among 10th and 12th Grade Black and Hispanic Students

Article excerpt

Teacher Instruction, Student Attitudes, and Mathematics Performance Among 10th and 12th Grade Black and Hispanic Students*

Using data from the first and the second NELS: 88 follow-up studies, this study examined the differential impact of reform and traditional types of instruction on the mathematics performance and attitudes of Black and Hispanic 10th and 12th grade students. Findings from this sampled group showed that 12th grade students receiving reform instruction had a significantly higher achievement score than students receiving traditional instruction. Also, 10th grade students with better attitudes toward mathematics had a significantly higher achievement score than those with poorer attitudes towards mathematics. In addition, students with good attitudes toward mathematics in the 10th grade achieved better mathematics scores in 12th grade. Practical implications, suggestions for future research, and implications for the Talent Development Secondary School Project are discussed.

In the area of mathematics, several studies have shown that instruction, especially at the high school level, remains overwhelmingly teacher-centered, with greater emphasis being placed on lecturing and textbooks than on helping students to think critically across subject areas and applying their knowledge to real-world situations (Cobb, Wood, Yackel, & McNeal, 1992; Cohen, McLaughlin, & Talbert, 1993; Ladson-Billings, 1997). This research suggests the need to adopt some of the more recent reform-based instructional strategies, along with some traditional practices that have been overlooked and underutilized in high school mathematics classrooms (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989, 1991, 2000; Stein, Grover, & Henningsen, 1996). Such strategies and practices include individual exploration, peer instruction, and small group work, each of which emphasizes the use of multiple approaches to problem solving, active student inquiry, and the importance of linking mathematics to students' daily life.

Research has shown some effect of these instructional reforms on student achievement and attitudes toward mathematics (Hart, 1989; Leder, 1987, McLeod 1991). However, the bulk of these studies have focused mainly on the elementary and middle school levels (e.g., Silver & Stein, 1996). Very few have focused on African American and Hispanic American students' mathematics achievement at the high school level (Porter, Kirst, Osthoff, Smithson, & Schneider, 1993). Indeed, much of the literature on Black and Hispanic youth and mathematics has emphasized these groups' lower mathematics achievement and their poor scores on standardized examinations such as the Scholastic Assessment Test's mathematics section. The literature has also examined the effects of other variables on students' mathematics attitudes and achievement such as their socioeconomic status (SES), gender, and school type as well as teacher experience and beliefs about different students' abilities to succeed in mathematics (Tate, 1997). These variables have been shown to exert a strong effect on student performance.

Though some writers have noted the differences in SES and other family background variables in student mathematics achievement, a key component in reform is the movement from traditional to reform instructional practices in mathematics. This suggests the importance of examining the effects and relationship among types of instructional practices that students receive and their resulting achievement and attitudes toward mathematics.

Traditional and Reform-based Mathematics Instruction

Numerous studies have examined teaching and learning in mathematics. Studies related to classroom instruction, for example, have focused on the amounts of allocated and engaged time devoted to instruction (Berlinger, 1978; Romberg, 1983); individual differences and instruction (Cronbach & Snow, 1977; Fennema & Behr, 1980); teacher behavior, planning, and decision making (Carnahan, 1980; Yinger, 1978); instruction in small and cooperative groups (Slavin, 1995b; Webb, 1982); and the quality of teachers' instructional messages (Good, Grouws, & Ebmeiner, 1983). …

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