Academic journal article The Journal of Educational Research

Mathematics Teachers' Beliefs and Their Practices towards Collaborative Learning in Public and Private Schools: A Comparative Case Study

Academic journal article The Journal of Educational Research

Mathematics Teachers' Beliefs and Their Practices towards Collaborative Learning in Public and Private Schools: A Comparative Case Study

Article excerpt

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A plethera of researches have investigated the relationship between beliefs of teachers and their instructional practices and have reported that the beliefs are in line with their practices (Beswick, 2007; Ertmer, 2005). The studies conducted on teachers' beliefs have projected the connection between instructors' beliefs and didactic practices (Cohen, Moffitt, & Goldin, 2007). On the contrary, there are researches that report the connection between the beliefs and practices of the teachers to be inconsistent e.g. (Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, Sendurur, & Sendurur, 2012; Phipps & Borg, 2009). Hence, the connection between teachers' beliefs and classroom practices as (Pehkonen, 2009) argues is exceptionally complicated and is often found to be a weak one.

In Pakistan, mathematics research is at the initial phase of development (Alia & Sadia, 2013) and has a lot of unanswered questions. Though collaborative learning (CL) and beliefs of mathematics teachers have been separately investigated in Pakistan (Qaisar & Butt, 2015), yet no study has been carried out to explore the relationship among the beliefs and practices towards a particular teaching approach. In the present study we will illuminate the similarities\differences of the practices of teachers from both public and private schools regarding collaborative learning.

The association between beliefs of mathematics teachers and their practices is highly uncertain and the aim of this research is to seek the consistency between the two constructs. For the purpose of this research we are initially defining mathematics teachers' beliefs & collaborative learning.

Mathematics Teachers ' Beliefs

Some researchers have said that beliefs act as a "regulating system" that drive actions and that they are the determinants of actions (Pehkonen, 2009).

Collaborative Learning

Research reveals that in Pakistan collaborative learning in mathematics classroom is limited whereby teachers mostly use a teacher- centered approach (Barwell, 2007; Alia and Sadia, 2013). In collaborative learning students cooperate in groups with the teacher in an effort to develop knowledge (Davidson & Major, 2014, p. 3).

Research Design & Research Questions

A multiple case study design was selected for this study. This qualitative approach is often the preferred choice for empirical inquiry that explores a phenomenon within its real-world context (Robson, 2016; Yin 2014). In this study, the meaning of 'cases' refer to the individual mathematics teachers. Hence two teachers make the two cases of the present study. Guiding this study are the following research questions:

Q. 1. To what extent are mathematics teachers' beliefs aligned with their practices regarding collaborative learning?

Q.2. What are the similarities and differences between the practices of public and private school teachers?

Participants and Context

This article reports on data gathered through questionnaires from fifty elementary mathematics school teachers. The analysis shows that only twelve out of fifty questionnaires showed that the teachers believed in the use of collaborative learning. We selected four teachers out of twelve. The grounds for selecting those teachers from the wider study were twofold: (1) their beliefs regarding collaborative learning were higher than the rest; (2) they all had their bachelors in Mathematics and were having an average of three years teaching experience. We are reporting two cases for the present study; "Noureen", who is a public-school teacher and "Sana", who is a private school teacher.

Data Collection

The data was collected over a period of five months, which took place in 2014. The study is divided into the following two stages:

Stage 1: Teachers' beliefs Questionnaire

Mathematics researchers have classified teachers' beliefs into three types: beliefs about the nature of mathematics, beliefs about mathematics teaching, and beliefs about students' learning (Loucks-Horsley, Stiles, Mundry, Love, & Hewson, 2009). …

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