An analysis of the subject matter preparation of mathematics teachers in the high schools of Newfoundland and Labrador

Denty, Frederick Nelson (1973) An analysis of the subject matter preparation of mathematics teachers in the high schools of Newfoundland and Labrador. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The study was concerned with determining the current status of the preparation of senior high school mathematics teachers in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and utilizing the information obtained to formulate appropriate in-service measures for these teachers. -- Questionnaires were used to gather data on 335 teachers who were teaching at least one mathematics course in Grades X or XI during the fall term of the 1972-1973 school year. The questionnaires were used to gather information in three general areas: academic qualifications of teachers, interests and attitudes toward mathematics, and in-service activities. There were 271 useable questionnaires returned which represented a response rate of 80.9 per cent. -- The respondents were classified according to the enrollment of the school in which they taught and, depending on their mathematics course background, as Type A, Type B, or Type C teachers. Since most of the data involved either the nominal or ordinal scales of measurement, the chi-square test was used frequently in testing hypotheses throughout the study. -- It was found that 39 per cent of the teachers were Type A (teachers with more than 24 semester hours of coursework recommended by CUPM for Level III), 17 per cent were Type B teachers (13 to 24 semester hours), and 44 per cent were Type C teachers (less than 13 semester hours). Only 40 per cent of the respondents had earned a major in mathematics, and 42 teachers had not earned a single semester hour of coursework in mathematics. Reasonable strengths in course background were indicated in the areas of algebra and analysis while serious gaps were found in the areas of geometry, probability and statistics, and computer mathematics. The fact that 71 per cent of the teachers had earned no credit in geometry was very alarming since geometry was a course taught by most teachers. The above findings serve as an indication of the critical shortage of well prepared mathematics teachers at the high school level in this province. -- An analysis of teaching assignments revealed that many teachers have been misassigned. Only 27 per cent of the respondents were teaching exclusively high school mathematics courses, and many of the others were teaching one or more courses in totally unrelated areas. -- The majority of the respondents indicated that they enjoyed teaching mathematics above all other subjects and did not consider that their lack of preparation was a handicap. However, the respondents showed little interest in membership in professional organizations, reading of relevant professional publications, and taking additional courses. -- In-service opportunities for high school mathematics teachers were limited to university sponsored on-campus courses. Sixty-three per cent of the teachers had taken at least one such course since they first began teaching, and 40 per cent of the 271 respondents had taken four or more courses. The respondents indicated that they considered university mathematics courses the most desirable type of in-service training, and felt that there was a need for more of these courses to be offered at the off-campus centers. -- The major recommendations of the study include the following: -- 1. Since an essential ingredient of any program of in-service training is a realization of the need for such a program, it was recommended that all concerned be made aware of the great need for in-service training. -- 2. A Mathematics Consultant should be included as part of the staff of the provincial Department of Education, and whenever possible, school boards should also hire a Mathematics Consultant as part of their supervisory staff. -- 3. The provincial university should re-examine its course requirements for mathematics teachers and, if possible, bring them in-line with the CUPM recommendations. -- 4. Teacher certification requirements and procedures should be re-examined with a view to improving them to insure that teachers will teach only subjects for which they are academically prepared. -- 5. In-service programs, especially in geometry, should be instituted as soon as possible. This could possibly be done as part of the off-campus program of Memorial University, and by making use of a group of well prepared teachers who teach mathematics at the high school level. -- 6. Personnel responsible for hiring and assigning mathematics teachers should try to ensure that -- (a) all new teachers hired have at least a major in mathematics and -- (b) that the best prepared teachers are used to maximum potential in teaching high school mathematics.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7411
Item ID: 7411
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 133-136.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1973
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Mathematics teachers--Training of; Mathematics--Study and teaching (Secondary)

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