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The conceptualisation of mathematics competencies in the international teacher education study TEDS-M


The main aim of the international teacher education study Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M), carried out under the auspices of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), was to understand how national policies and institutional practices influence the outcomes of mathematics teacher education. This paper reports on the definition of effective mathematics teacher education in TEDS-M, distinguishing between mathematics content knowledge and mathematics pedagogical content knowledge as essential cognitive components of mathematics teachers’ professional competencies. These competence facets were implemented as proficiency tests based on extensive coordination and validation processes by experts from all participating countries. International acceptance of the tests was accomplished whereas, by necessity, national specifications had to be left out, as is common in comparative large-scale assessments. In this paper, the nature of the TEDS-M tests for the primary study is analysed and commented on detail. The aims are to increase our understanding of mathematics content knowledge and mathematics pedagogical content knowledge, which are still fuzzy domains, to provide a substantive background for interpretations of the test results and to examine whether some educational traditions may be more accurately reflected in the test items than others. For this purpose, several items that have been released by the IEA are presented and elaborately analysed in order to substantiate the test design of TEDS-M. Our main conclusion is that the overall validity of the TEDS-M tests can be regarded as a given, but that readers have to be aware of limitations, amongst others from a continental European point of view.

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  1. The international costs of TEDS-M were funded by the IEA, the National Science Foundation (REC 0514431) and the participating countries. In Germany, the German Research Foundation funded TEDS-M (DFG, BL 548/3-1). The instruments are copyrighted by the TEDS-M International Study Center at MSU (ISC). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the IEA, the ISC, the participating countries or the funding agencies.

  2. The calculations of the percentage frequencies are based on the international TEDS-M data set version 3.0, provided by the IEA.


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Correspondence to Martina Döhrmann.

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Döhrmann, M., Kaiser, G. & Blömeke, S. The conceptualisation of mathematics competencies in the international teacher education study TEDS-M. ZDM Mathematics Education 44, 325–340 (2012).

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  • Teacher Education
  • Mathematics Teaching
  • Mathematics Teacher
  • Prospective Teacher
  • Proficiency Test