Same Teacher – Different Classes

Prof. Ruhama Even

The research program Same Teacher – Different Classes focuses purposely on studying the interactions among curricula, teachers, and classes in different situations. To study these interactions, we compare mathematics teaching and learning in different classes of the same teacher as well as of different teachers, and examine the enacted curricula, the teaching practices, the classroom culture, etc. All studies that belong to the Same Teacher – Different Classes research program use the same novel research methodology: multiple case studies in which each case includes a teacher who teaches mathematics using the same curriculum program or syllabus in two classes. In this way, some aspects are kept relatively constant; this enables careful examination of the interactions among curricula, teachers, and classes, which are not easily detectable.

My current research focuses on studying what might be gained and what the challenges might be when using this methodology for assessing or studying mathematics classroom instruction [A, I: 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 14]. By comparing mathematics teaching and learning in classes of different teachers that use the same textbook, our studies (supported in part by a two-year ISF grant) show that students of teachers who adopt different teaching approaches might not only study mathematics differently, but there might be also differences in the mathematics addressed in those classes, even tough they all use the same textbook. These differences appeared to be linked to the teacher’s teaching approach. Noteworthy information was revealed when, instead of focusing solely on the comparison between teachers, different classes taught by the same teacher were compared. For example, we detected a rather surprising finding, which is contrary to the prevalent view portrayed in modern literature about teachers’ tendency to focus less on developing understanding and more on mechanistic answer-finding when teaching low-achieving classes. Furthermore, our studies show that differences in the mathematics addressed in class occur not only between classes of different teachers, but also between different classes of the same teacher who use the same curriculum materials. Recently, we identified the mathematical topic as another potentially critical factor, suggesting that mathematical topics that require substantial use of deductive reasoning – in contrast with those requiring mainly the use of inductive reasoning – have the potential to generate high variation in students’ opportunities to engage in mathematics across teachers and classes.