This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Exploring Beliefs and Practices of Teachers of Secondary Mathematics Who Participated in a Standards-Based Pre-Service Education Program




Smeal, Mary

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has challenged all mathematics teachers to use the Standards documents (1989, 1991, 1995, & 2000) as guidelines for teaching mathematics. Many pre-service programs are now presenting curricula that are based on the Standards (1989, 1991, 1995, & 2000). When mathematics teachers enter their own classroom, will their teaching methods reflect the guidelines of the Standards that they encountered in their pre-service education? Five case studies were used to investigate the teaching beliefs and practices of mathematics teachers who had participated in a Standards-based pre-service education. The case studies were selected based on the results from a survey in order to arrive at a diverse, purposeful sample. A variety of data sources were used to develop a better understanding of teachers’ beliefs and practices. The researcher used a survey, classroom observations, interviews, and an observation instrument as data sources. One of the teachers held beliefs in alignment with the guidelines of the Standards and effectively implemented them in her classroom. Another teacher strongly held Standards-based beliefs but had difficulty incorporating these beliefs into her teaching practices due to the obstacles of curriculum, high-stakes testing, and classroom management. The third teacher incorporated some Standards-based teaching strategies but was heavily influenced by his administration and curriculum to follow a traditional pattern of teaching. The fourth teacher held beliefs in alignment with the Standards after participating in an internship with a cooperating teacher that provided positive Standards-based teaching experiences in a middle school setting. After she began teaching seniors, she felt that Standards-based strategies were more appropriate for students below the high school level. She incorporated traditional teaching practices. The fifth teacher held traditional beliefs even after the completion of his pre-service education and continued with traditional teaching strategies in his own classroom. Four of the teachers lowered their expectations of students based on the students’ demographics, such as academic level and socioeconomic status.