An analysis of secondary mathematics teachers' beliefs and classroom practices in relationship to the NCTM standards

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Mathematics|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




To improve mathematics instruction in our schools, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics developed the “Standards”. Studies have been conducted with respect to the “Standards” and classroom instruction, which found mathematics instruction based on the “Standards” to be more effective than the traditional model of teaching. The Third International Mathematics and Science Study concluded that typical 8th and 12th grade instruction in the United States is not aligned with the NCTM Standards. Also, our nation's 8th and 12 th graders performed significantly lower than their international counterparts. Research has determined teachers' beliefs about mathematics, teaching, and learning can affect their instruction. Therefore, this research examined secondary mathematics teachers' beliefs and their instructional practices relative to the NCTM Standards. ^ This study involved 6 secondary mathematics teachers. Through the use of interviewing, a belief instrument, classroom observation, and the pre- and post-observation interviews, this study investigated factors that influenced secondary teachers' beliefs and their instructional practices with respect to the NCTM Standards. ^ The following factors influenced at least one of the teachers' beliefs: peer interaction/collegial support, former kindergarten through 12 th grade instructors, reflection on one's teaching experiences, students' behaviors, students' abilities, professional development opportunities, college methods instructors, and the NCTM Standards. ^ The following factors influenced at least one of the teachers' classroom practice: collegial support, professional development, curricula demands, reflection, textbook, students' behaviors, students' abilities, subject, teachers' beliefs, former kindergarten through 12th grade instructors, statewide problem based tests, college methods courses, goals for instruction, and the NCTM Standards. ^ The data indicated that 3 of the teachers' beliefs were aligned, 2 were partially aligned, and 1 teacher's belief was not aligned with classroom practice. This research supported previous research with respect that there is a relationship between beliefs and practice although it is not always consistent. ^ Several factors emerged that either have helped or hindered a teacher in aligning his/her beliefs with instruction: professional development, reflection, collegial support, curriculum demands, class size/length, students' behaviors/abilities, subjective incongruity, availability of resources, and the NCTM Standards. ^