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Investigating a Singapore-based mathematics textbook and teaching approach in classrooms in England

Investigating a Singapore-based mathematics textbook and teaching approach in classrooms in England
Investigating a Singapore-based mathematics textbook and teaching approach in classrooms in England
The high mathematics performance of pupils in Singapore on international assessments has prompted educational initiatives in other countries – such as the UK and the USA – to adopt Singapore-based approaches in an attempt to raise mathematics achievement. Empirical evidence to support the transferability of such approaches beyond the Singaporean context, however, is limited. This article reports findings from a mixed methods Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (mmCRCT) evaluating the use of a primary mathematics textbook series and teaching approach in England based on a textbook and teaching approach from Singapore. Main features of the intervention included textbook use, mixed-ability groups, use of manipulatives, and emphasis on mastery (i.e. ensuring all pupils grasp core concepts before proceeding to new topics). A delayed treatment experimental design was used within the mmCRCT, with 12 schools randomly allocated into two groups. The experimental group used the textbooks and teaching approach from September 2015. The delayed treatment control group proceeded with “business as usual” until January 2016, then started using the textbooks and teaching approach. Data were collected (in the first, second and third terms of one school year) on pupils’ mathematics knowledge and skills, pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics, classroom practice (based on structured observation schedules and qualitative field notes), teacher perspectives (from semi-structured interviews), and intervention-specific professional development (in July 2015 for the experimental group, December 2015 for the delayed treatment control group, observed by researchers and followed by focus-group interviews). Results showed a small but significant positive effect by Term 3 of using the mastery-oriented materials and approach from September on pupils’ subsequent mathematics knowledge and skills, but no persistent difference between groups across terms on their attitudes. Differences in classroom practice between the two groups were observed in the first term but insignificant by the third term. Qualitative findings elaborate on and illustrate these first-term differences, teachers’ perspectives on their practice, variations in textbook use and teaching approach implementation, and considerations of fidelity to intervention. Implications are drawn for policy and practice in mathematics teaching and for research using mixed methods experimental designs to evaluate a combination of processes, perspectives and outcomes.
mathematics education, mixed methods, Cluster randomized controlled trial, mastery-based teaching, Singapore mathematics, Evaluation, Primary education, experimental design
2504-284X
1-21
Lindorff, Ariel
c1b05285-fa02-46ea-9f61-1a04f65ae1c3
Hall, James
29e17a2b-dca0-4b91-be02-2ace4abaa6c4
Sammons, Pamela
6e0fda4f-4780-4368-a64e-637cb182428e
Lindorff, Ariel
c1b05285-fa02-46ea-9f61-1a04f65ae1c3
Hall, James
29e17a2b-dca0-4b91-be02-2ace4abaa6c4
Sammons, Pamela
6e0fda4f-4780-4368-a64e-637cb182428e

Lindorff, Ariel, Hall, James and Sammons, Pamela (2019) Investigating a Singapore-based mathematics textbook and teaching approach in classrooms in England. Frontiers in Education, 4 (37), 1-21. (doi:10.3389/feduc.2019.00037).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The high mathematics performance of pupils in Singapore on international assessments has prompted educational initiatives in other countries – such as the UK and the USA – to adopt Singapore-based approaches in an attempt to raise mathematics achievement. Empirical evidence to support the transferability of such approaches beyond the Singaporean context, however, is limited. This article reports findings from a mixed methods Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial (mmCRCT) evaluating the use of a primary mathematics textbook series and teaching approach in England based on a textbook and teaching approach from Singapore. Main features of the intervention included textbook use, mixed-ability groups, use of manipulatives, and emphasis on mastery (i.e. ensuring all pupils grasp core concepts before proceeding to new topics). A delayed treatment experimental design was used within the mmCRCT, with 12 schools randomly allocated into two groups. The experimental group used the textbooks and teaching approach from September 2015. The delayed treatment control group proceeded with “business as usual” until January 2016, then started using the textbooks and teaching approach. Data were collected (in the first, second and third terms of one school year) on pupils’ mathematics knowledge and skills, pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics, classroom practice (based on structured observation schedules and qualitative field notes), teacher perspectives (from semi-structured interviews), and intervention-specific professional development (in July 2015 for the experimental group, December 2015 for the delayed treatment control group, observed by researchers and followed by focus-group interviews). Results showed a small but significant positive effect by Term 3 of using the mastery-oriented materials and approach from September on pupils’ subsequent mathematics knowledge and skills, but no persistent difference between groups across terms on their attitudes. Differences in classroom practice between the two groups were observed in the first term but insignificant by the third term. Qualitative findings elaborate on and illustrate these first-term differences, teachers’ perspectives on their practice, variations in textbook use and teaching approach implementation, and considerations of fidelity to intervention. Implications are drawn for policy and practice in mathematics teaching and for research using mixed methods experimental designs to evaluate a combination of processes, perspectives and outcomes.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 16 April 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 3 May 2019
Keywords: mathematics education, mixed methods, Cluster randomized controlled trial, mastery-based teaching, Singapore mathematics, Evaluation, Primary education, experimental design

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430459
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430459
ISSN: 2504-284X
PURE UUID: 2012ec7f-aea3-4d86-9cff-abcbda3c88e2
ORCID for James Hall: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8002-0922

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 01 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 05:10

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Contributors

Author: Ariel Lindorff
Author: James Hall ORCID iD
Author: Pamela Sammons

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