Developing communities of mathematical inquiry
Case 1, ‘Developing communities of mathematical inquiry’, illustrates how two teachers developed teaching practices that were highly effective for diverse learners. The case focuses on how these teachers accelerated the mathematics achievement of their year 4 to 6 students, most of whom were Māori or Pasifika.
Author(s): Ministry of Education
Date Published: Released on Education Counts March 2011
BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme
This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box). For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box or visit the BES (Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis) Programme.
Section 1: Introduction to Case 1
Case 1: Developing communities of mathematical inquiry
Case 1, 'Developing communities of mathematical inquiry', illustrates how two teachers developed teaching practices that were highly effective for diverse learners. The case focuses on how these teachers accelerated the mathematics achievement of their year 4 to 6 students, most of whom were Māori or Pasifika. The pedagogy that supported this improvement has implications that are relevant for all students across the primary, intermediate, and lower secondary school contexts.
The teachers were participants in an intervention led by Dr Roberta Hunter, Senior Lecturer at the Massey University College of Education, Albany Campus. The intervention was carried out as part of a wider study led by Professors Glenda Anthony and Margaret Walshaw, co-directors of the Centre of Excellence for Research in Mathematics Education and co-writers of the Effective pedagogy in mathematics/pāngarau best evidence synthesis iteration [BES].
New BES cases to support teachers' work
This is the first of a series of cases being developed as part of the update of the first best evidence synthesis (BES), due for publication in 2011. The cases have been given priority in response to advice from teachers and principals. They bring the BES findings to life through real examples from schools in New Zealand and overseas. Each new case has been selected from hundreds of studies because it is outstanding in its effectiveness for diverse learners and it shows the BES findings in action. The cases are intended to support professional learning about working 'smarter rather than harder' in education.
Addressing areas of need
Wherever possible, the cases show teachers addressing teaching and learning issues that we know are areas of need across New Zealand. This case has been given precedence because the mathematics achievement of New Zealand students in their middle primary school years is below the international mean.1 An international comparison revealed that students whose teachers had participated in the Numeracy Development Project (NDP) did significantly better than students whose teachers had not. However, despite most New Zealand primary school teachers having participated in the NDP, it is clear that many teachers need more support. The 2009 National Education Monitoring Project findings indicate continuing disparities for Māori, and worsening disparities for Pasifika, in mathematics. Case 1 exemplifies an approach that helps students develop all five of the key competencies, supporting teachers in implementing the New Zealand Curriculum.
This case also demonstrates how the development of a learning community countered bullying. Bullying is another issue that international research show is an area of need in New Zealand schools.2 New Zealand students in their middle primary school years experience a high rate of bullying from their peers, the second highest on an international index comparing rates of student safety in their peer cultures in thirty-five countries. Māori boys and Pasifika girls and boys experience the highest rates of bullying.
Professional learning community
While teachers are the primary audience for the case, it is also intended as a resource for professional leaders and for all those working to support teachers. We are progressively releasing the new BES cases, initially in electronic form. Our intention is that schools and teacher educators should use them and provide feedback about how we could optimise the value of this resource for professional learning. Please feel free to make copies.
Feedback to inform BES development
We will draw upon your feedback as part of our iterative process as we finalise the cases for the new BES update. Please send any feedback to us at: Best Evidence Mailbox
This case also exemplifies the findings of the Effective pedagogy in mathematics/pāngarau best evidence synthesis iteration [BES]. Hard copies of that BES are available free on request within New Zealand from Orders@TheChair Mailbox
Summaries of this BES are available electronically in English and Māori on the UNESCO website:
- Anthony, G. & Walshaw, M. (2009). Effective pedagogy in mathematics: Educational practices series, 19. International Academy of Education & International Bureau of Education, UNESCO. Accessed 06 December 2010.
- Anthony, G. & Walshaw, M. (2010). Te ako pāngarau whaihua: Educational practices series, 19. International Academy of Education, International Bureau of Education, UNESCO. Accessed 06 December 2010.
The Ministry of Education acknowledges the work and the outstanding expertise of Dr Roberta Hunter of Massey University, Albany, who led the research and development and the teacher professional learning that is described in this case.
This work was possible also because of the larger Teaching and Learning Research Initiative, Numeracy Practices and Change Project, which was co-directed by Professors Glenda Anthony and Margaret Walshaw.
The Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis Programme pays tribute to the outstanding teaching of 'Ava' and 'Moana', whose commitment to the collaborative professional learning opportunity described in this case made possible such extraordinary gains for students. We acknowledge also the contribution of your principal and colleagues in forging such a powerful school-based professional learning community.
The development of this case has been strengthened by formative quality assurance. We acknowledge and thank:
- Dr Roberta Hunter and Professor Glenda Anthony, Massey University
- Liz Patara, Principal/Tumuaki, and Mary Lee Bogard, teacher, Clyde Quay School
- Dr Earl Irving and Dr Claire Sinnema, University of Auckland
- Associate Professor Jenny Young-Loveridge, University of Waikato
- Stephanie Greaney, Manager Evaluation and Policy, Education Review Office
- Professor Courtney Cazden, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University.
Thanks also to the team at Learning Media for your patient and iterative work in developing this case to date.
- Mullis, I., Martin, M. O., & Foy, P. (2007). TIMMS 2006 international science report: Findings from IEA's trends in mathematics and science study at the fourth and eighth grades. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.
- Ibid, p. 367