Imagine Andrea, who completes her multiplication tables in record time. Kamil, next to her, works at a slower pace, but thinks he is an adequate mathematician. Sophie however, who also works at a slower pace than Andrea, feels inadequate in comparison, and gets distressed. How can teachers deal with the different student reactions? What kind of feedback can be given to different students to enhance their beliefs? This demonstrates that it is important to develop knowledge about how teachers can support the learning processes of different groups of students and differentiate instruction to the need of the student. A "one size fits all" approach to teaching appears antithetical to this project.
Students’ mathematics self-efficacy (students’ confidence that they can learn and perform mathematics) is important because it is related to students' perseverance and motivation for difficult tasks, math anxiety, performance outcomes in mathematics, and study and career choices. The current project will investigate the learning processes of lower secondary students’ mathematics self-efficacy and performance, to determine how teachers can provide effective, differentiated instruction to individual students in their class. Furthermore, the project will pilot a teacher professional development intervention supporting teachers to apply knowledge regarding students’ learning processes and teacher-student interactions to their own practice.
The project will apply a longitudinal design involving two phases of data collection. During phase 1 (work packages 1 and 2) we will generate new knowledge through applying an innovative sequential burst design (intensive longitudinal data collected in bursts across a year), following students (n=270) and their mathematics teachers (n=14) in Norway across learning events and standardised tests as they are introduced to four new topics in mathematics. Students will answer questionnaires at the beginning and end of each lesson, and lessons will be videotaped, enabling analyses of both whole-class and dyadic student- teacher interactions. During phase 2 (work package 3) we will co-create a professional development intervention with school practitioners in the project. The participating teachers will be invited to partake in a conference where we will share and discuss initial findings, followed by a series of workshops. For each workshop the focus will be on key findings emerging from phase 1 and on supporting teachers’ beliefs, skills, and instructional strategies in groups. We will use vignettes and videoclips from phase 1 to illustrate and exemplify theoretical findings, generating discussion and reflection on key selected aspects of teachers’ differentiated instruction associated with different student developmental trajectories.