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Using Variables in School Mathematics: Do School Mathematics Curricula Provide Support for Teachers?

  • James Dogbey
Article

Abstract

This study employed content analysis to examine 3 popular middle-grades mathematics curricula in the USA on the support they provide for teachers to implement concepts associated with variables in school mathematics. The results indicate that each of the 3 curricula provides some type of support for teachers, but in a varied amount and quality. More specifically, whereas the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP) curriculum provides support for teachers on several aspects of using variables in school mathematics, the support found in the Connected Mathematics 2 and the Math Connects curricula focused mainly on one conception of variables—namely, the use of variables as quantity that varies in the Connected Mathematics 2 curriculum and the use of variables as specific unknowns in the Math Connects curriculum. Overall, the UCSMP curriculum provides the most support for teachers, followed by the Connected Mathematics 2 curriculum, with the Math Connects curriculum recording the least support for teachers to enact variable concepts. It is worth pointing out that, although the 3 curricula collectively provide guidance for teachers to implement variable ideas within meaningful real-world contexts, the supports identified in the respective curriculum were not sufficient in addressing all of the areas that are essential for teaching the many concepts associated with variables in school mathematics effectively. Recommendations for curriculum developers and for international researchers with interest in the roles of variables in school mathematics are provided.

Keywords

Content analysis Curriculum School mathematics Teachers Variables 

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas A & M University—Corpus ChristiCorpus ChristiUSA

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