A STUDY OF HOW MATHEMATICS TEACHERS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN HONG KONG CATER FOR STUDENTS’ INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES

Tseng, Ellen (2012) A STUDY OF HOW MATHEMATICS TEACHERS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN HONG KONG CATER FOR STUDENTS’ INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to investigate how teachers cater for students’ individual
differences in the context of a reform-based Mathematics curriculum, using the topic
‘Similar triangles’. A group of six Hong Kong secondary schools in different locations,
and with different banding and setting policies, took part in the study. The students
were in the age-group 12 to 13 years.
A naturalistic research design, without any interference from the researcher, was
chosen to examine teacher behaviour. The emphasis was on observing, describing,
interpreting and exploring events in the complex setting of the classroom, via a case
study approach. Data were collected from the six teachers through interviews,
questionnaires, and video and audio recording of five to six lessons for each teacher.
There was also one focus group interview with students from each teacher’s classes.
This research reports on how the methods suggested in the Curriculum Guide for
catering for individual differences were implemented in the classroom. In general, the
teachers involved: (1) attempted to check students’ prior knowledge, but only a small
number of students was involved; (2) asked questions at different levels, but did not
know about the students’ learning progress; (3) chose content which was most likely
to follow the textbook; (4) were unable to vary the focus to help students to learn; and
(5) could not identify what was hindering students in working out problems during
seatwork.
This study indicates that teachers are using their own methods to try to solve the
problem of catering for student diversity, but the approaches they employ are not of a
high enough quality to help students. Also, the ways in which teachers catered for
individual differences in students varied considerably. This was found to depend on:
the learning atmosphere; the opportunities created for student responses; variations in
the scaffolding used; and the level of students’ motivation for learning. It is strongly
recommended that teachers open their minds to contacts outside the classroom to
refresh their teaching repertoire, and try to use some new methods which are related to
the theories discussed in this research. Also, it is suggested that policy makers could
build on the teachers’ experiences to enhance their ability to handle student diversity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2014 17:30
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2014 17:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48139
DOI:

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