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CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

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Journal Article

Content Across Communities: Validating Measures of Elementary Mathematics Instruction

In recent years, scholars have problematized terms used to describe instruction on teacher survey instruments. When scholars, observers, and teachers employed terms like “discuss” and “investigate,” these authors found, they often meant to describe quite different events (Mayer 1999; Spillane & Zeuli 1999; Stigler, Gonzales, et al, 1999). This paper problematizes another set of terms often found on survey instruments, those describing mathematical content. To do so, it examines terms such as “geometry,” “number patterns” and “ordering fractions” for rates of agreement and disagreement between teachers and observers participating in a field pilot of an elementary mathematics daily log. Using interviews, written observations, and reflections on disagreements, this paper is also able to ask why disagreements occurred. Sources of disagreement included problems with instrument design, memory/perception, and, notably, differences in the way language is used in different communities – university mathematicians, elementary teachers, and mathematics educators – to give meaning to subject matter terms. Theoretical and practical implications of these sources of disagreement are explored.

Hill, H. (2005). Content across communities: Validating measures of elementary mathematics instruction. Educational Policy, 19(3).

Publication Date

April 2008