The current project focuses on mathematics education, and is partitioned into three subprojects mapping research on formative assessment, classroom teaching, and curriculum programs in mathematics. The rationale for focusing on these three areas is that they are all highly relevant for understanding and improving Swedish mathematics education and students’ knowing of mathematics. Therefore, the aim of the project is to map research on formative assessment, classroom teaching, and curriculum programs in mathematics education.
The methodology of the literature review has been inspired by Gough, Oliver, and Thomas (2013), and we have focused on the mapping on journal articles published on Web of Science (WoS).
The results from the sample of articles on formative assessment show that strategies of formative assessment in mathematics are positively correlated to students’ performance in mathematics with medium and large effect sizes. However, based on the current mapping it is difficult to specify aspects of how the formative strategies are to be implemented in order to promote students’ knowing of mathematics.
Despite the change in perspective of what constitutes knowledge in mathematics to also include reasoning, problem-solving and communication, the map shows that research is mainly focused on examining teaching methods and their effects on students’ skills in mathematics. A closer examination of the studies that do focus on teaching for supporting students in developing competencies like reasoning and problem-solving shows that connections between and comparison of students’ solutions, as well as teachers’ ways of asking questions to support students in explaining their solutions clearly and in detail, are important for students’ learning of these competencies.
A central finding stemming from this review of curriculum programs is the complexity involved in how the programs can support teachers in establishing classroom practices. Curriculum resources and teacher resources, as well as other influencing factors, impact the quality of instruction, and studies have begun to point out how curriculum resources and teacher resources uniquely and jointly impact classroom practices. Multiple research articles have expressed the need for teacher support in implementing curriculum programs, by means of professional development, teacher education and support provided by the curriculum programs themselves. Interesting in this regard is the state of the research field concerning the design of educative curriculum programs, and how teachers make use of such support. Studies have proposed design approaches, regarding both the actual development of educative curriculum programs as well as how to use them in teacher education to support prospective teachers’ development of knowledge. Further, although research has revealed that it is important to prepare for teaching in certain ways, we found very little research that explicitly analyzed how teachers actually prepare for teaching a mathematics lesson.
Limitations of the project include: (1) the lack of searching in potentially relevant databases, (2) the fact that a relatively small proportion of articles found in the search have been coded, (3) that we have not engaged in deep considerations as to whether and in what ways results from international research are relevant in the Swedish context, and (4) that we therefore have not been able to synthesize the results of the study. In relation to the Swedish context (Hemmi & Ryve, 2014; Boesen et al., 2014), international research (Hattie, 2009; Smith & Stein, 2011), and the current project’s findings, we recommend that Skolforskningsinstitutet focus on two aspects of great importance for developing students’ knowing of mathematics. First, Skolforskningsinstitutet should synthesize research that supports actors, such as teachers and principals, in acting within school practices. In the case of teachers, support is needed to engage them in actively anticipating students’ thinking, using curriculum programs effectively, introducing mathematical content, acting in group work, formatively assessing students’ learning, and orchestrating whole-class mathematical discussions. Secondly, actors within school practices need support not only in initiating and implementing developments but also in institutionalizing such developments. Skolforskningsinstitutet should specify the kind of support needed in order to ensure that material, routines, competences, and organizations become integral and permanent features of Swedish school practice.
Stockholm: Vetenskapsrådet , 2015. , 229 p.