Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Robin Anderson

Abstract

Mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) is the knowledge required for teaching mathematics for understanding. Researchers suggest that this construct consists of multiple knowledge domains. Those domains include teachers’ knowledge of mathematical content and knowledge about teaching mathematics. These domains of MKT have been theoretically and empirically examined to determine their effects on K-12 student achievement. However, empirical evidence of this relationship is limited due to a lack of measures to assess MKT. Recently, researchers have constructed measures of MKT to evaluate the effectiveness of professional development activities with in-service teachers. These measures, however, lack validity evidence for use in teacher education program assessment. This process requires adequate tools for assessing the extent to which students meet specific learning outcomes. Previous research has not supported the use of any current measure of MKT for preservice teacher program assessment. To address this gap in the literature, a process of construct validation was conducted on a scale developed for assessing MKT at the program level of a teacher education program. Validation evidence for the items was obtained using Benson’s framework of a strong program of construct validation. The factor structure of the items was analyzed and expected group differences were assessed. Qualitative data from cognitive interviews were then used to provide convergent evidence in regards to the construct validity of the items. The overall purpose of these methods of inquiry was to develop items that would measure the MKT that resulted from a teacher education mathematics curriculum. Results indicated that an 11- item essentially unidimensional scale of specialized content knowledge could be formed. The factor underlying responses to the scale appeared to be related to specialized content knowledge. Interviews with participants revealed themes indicating that the items were measuring specialized content knowledge. Comparisons among students at differing levels of the mathematics education curriculum revealed significant, but small differences between upper level preservice teachers and preservice teachers whom received no instruction. Further analysis of these items indicated that they could be improved by focusing future item development on examining preservice teachers’ misconceptions in evaluating mathematical arguments. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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