Learning

Thursday 31 July 2014

More than a third of maths teachers feel underqualified

Katherine Donnelly

Published 17/01/2013|05:00

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A SIGNIFICANT percentage of second-level maths teachers don't feel adequately prepared to teach and assess students in the subject, according to a new study.

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As many as 36pc of the teachers did not feel happy about assessing maths and 28pc felt they were lacking in teaching methods.

Up to 22pc would probably not meet Teaching Council requirements for teaching the subject, it estimates.

These are among the findings of a survey on teaching maths in transition year, which says better use should be made of the year to build student skills in the subject.

The study was carried out by the Educational Research Centre (ERC), Drumcondra, Dublin, in the context of general educational reform.

Key recommendations are that transition-year students spend more time learning maths and progress made in that year should count for what level of maths they study for the Leaving Cert.

The report also calls for improvements in on-the-job training for maths teachers.

The study follows concerns raised by the findings of the three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study showing that the performance of Irish 15 year olds is below the international average.

When the last PISA tests were conducted in March 2012, the ERC decided to use it as an opportunity to survey teachers of maths in transition year.

Findings

The results won't be known until next December but the ERC yesterday published the findings of its teacher survey.

Hours spent on maths in transition year was one of the issues touched on in the survey. It found that while students were timetabled to have an average of 83 hours of maths teaching, they were receiving, on average, only 84pc of those hours.

The report calls on the Department of Education to strengthen its guidelines and indicate the minimum amount of maths teaching that should take place.

It says that even though students are likely to be engaged in other activities that demand large blocks of time, maths teaching should be prioritised during the year.

Transition year should also be used to promote student awareness of the importance and relevance of maths.

The ERC also expresses concern about schools relying on Junior Cert results rather than transition year grades when allocating students to Leaving Cert exam classes.

Irish Independent

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