, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 461–474 | Cite as

Utilizing the M-Scan to measure standards-based mathematics teaching practices: affordances and limitations

  • Temple A. Walkowiak
  • Robert Q. Berry
  • Holly H. Pinter
  • Erik D. Jacobson
Original Article


The Mathematics Scan (M-Scan), a content-specific observational measure, was utilized to examine the extent to which standards-based mathematics teaching practices were present in three focal lessons. While previous studies have provided evidence of validity of the inferences drawn from M-Scan data, no prior work has investigated the affordances and limitations of the M-Scan in capturing standards-based mathematics teaching. We organize the affordances and limitations into three categories: the operationalization of the M-Scan, the organization of the M-Scan, and the M-Scan within the larger ecology of instruction. Our analysis indicates the M-Scan differentiates among lessons in their use of standards-based mathematics teaching practices by operationalizing the M-Scan dimensions at the lesson level, sometimes at the expense of capturing the peaks and valleys within a single lesson. Simultaneously, the analysis revealed how the application of the rubrics may be impacted by lesson transcripts. We discuss the theoretical organization of the M-Scan and its implications for researchers and practitioners applying the rubrics. Finally, we point to the affordances and limitations of the M-Scan within the larger ecology of instruction by considering curricular issues and two dimensions of instruction not highlighted by the M-Scan.


Mathematics Teaching practices Standards-based M-Scan Observational measure 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under Award #1561453 and by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, under grant R305A070063. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF or the US Department of Education.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Temple A. Walkowiak
    • 1
  • Robert Q. Berry
    • 2
  • Holly H. Pinter
    • 3
  • Erik D. Jacobson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Teacher Education and Learning SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Curry School of EducationUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.School of Teaching and LearningWestern Carolina UniversityCullowheeUSA
  4. 4.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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