Considering the role of K-2 teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching place value in mathematics intervention


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A dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.
A significant number of students receive special education services for mathematics learning disabilities, however, many additional students need mathematics intervention to support their learning in the regular education classroom. A Response to Intervention (RtI) model has been identified as effective in addressing these students’ needs; however, little is known about the skill set needed by the interventionist to provide the appropriate instruction for these students. This study employed a qualitative, multiple case study approach to explore the relationship between teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and their understanding of how students learn place value concepts. Additionally, the study explored the relationship between teachers’ MKT and the instructional strategies they identified to support student understanding of place value concepts in an intervention setting. The population included four K-2 elementary school classroom teachers who also teach mathematics intervention in a South Texas school district. The response data from the participants was compared to Battista’s (2012) Levels of Sophistication in Student Reasoning: Place Value and the Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) framework proposed by Ball, Thames and Phelps (2008) and expounded upon by Bair and Rich (2011). The findings of the study indicated that, for this sample of teachers, those with a greater mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) of place value concepts demonstrated a deeper understanding of the mathematics content. Additionally, the teachers with greater MKT of place value selected, with greater consistency, research-based effective instructional strategies to support students in a mathematics intervention setting. The instructional strategies identified included a concrete to pictorial to abstract approach and the use of systematic, explicit instruction. Implications of these findings suggest that K-2 elementary school mathematics teachers who also teach mathematics intervention should possess a greater mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and would benefit from supplementary training in Response to Intervention instructional strategies. These findings also suggest that school leaders may need to consider the feasibility of training teachers to be content experts versus hiring mathematics specialists for intervention instruction. Further research on interventionists’ mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) has the potential to inform teacher education and teacher professional learning.
Educational Leadership, Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Development