Examining elementary mathematics teachers' justification practices
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This study examined the relationship between elementary teachers' attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, Elementary Mathematics Specialist (EMS) status, and students' opportunities to engage in justification. Guided by a theoretical framework positioning instructional practices as an outcome of psychological factors (Ernest, 1989; Wilkins, 2008), a mixed-methods sequential explanatory design (Ivankova et al., 2006) was used to structure the study. Quantitative analyses were conducted using data from Studying Teacher Expertise and Assignment in Mathematics (STEAM), a large-scale, federally funded project. Interpretable factors representing teachers' attitudes and beliefs about mathematics teaching and learning were empirically derived via exploratory factor analyses. These factors, along with data on teachers' knowledge and instructional practice, were incorporated into a factor score path analysis (Devlieger and Rosseel, 2017). An embedded single-case study (Yin, 2014) was utilized to characterize classrooms described in task-based interviews of 8 EMS-certified teachers representing High, Medium, and Low justification practices. The quantitative investigation resulted in an empirical model of direct effects of teachers' attitudes, beliefs, and EMS status, as well as indirect effects of teachers' knowledge, attitudes, and specialized training on justification practices. Qualitative analysis yieled themes regarding the object and source of challenges for students' justifications and teachers' actions to foster classroom environments for justification. Findings from quantitative and qualitative analyses were synthesized to explain how teacher-level characteristics align with observable classroom practices. Implications for future research and teacher education are offered.
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