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Remote schools working together in the Kimberley: Initial impact on teachers mathematics content-pedagogic knowledge and classroom practice

Jacob, L. (2011) Remote schools working together in the Kimberley: Initial impact on teachers mathematics content-pedagogic knowledge and classroom practice. In: AARE 2011, 27 November - 1 December 2011, Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart

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Despite concerted effort and expenditure, improving the numeracy outcomes for Indigenous students particularly those in remote regions continues to be a major challenge. There are many factors that impact on the learning of Indigenous students in remote communities. For students, learning mathematics is a complex task when English is their second or third language. Other student factors involve attendance, transience and retention. In Western Australia, many teachers in remote Indigenous communities are new graduates, and as well as being inexperienced in teaching mathematics, they also have little experience being in a remote community with Indigenous people. Some larger schools may have numeracy specialist teachers who can provide mentoring and professional learning support. However in the smaller schools there is an often limited face-to-face professional learning opportunities. In 2010 seven schools in the Kimberley in Western Australia established the Fitzroy Valley Numeracy Project. The project aims to improve the numeracy outcomes of Indigenous students by developing a systematic and co-ordinated approach to teaching mathematics that can be sustained long-term, beyond staff turnovers, transfer of ʻexpertʼ teachers, or one-off funding arrangements. A study was commenced to examine the impact of the project on primary teachersʼ content-pedagogic knowledge and classroom practice. This paper is part of an ongoing larger study. It examines some data from an initial survey and a follow up survey after almost a year of implementation of the project. Twenty one teachers responded to the Initial Questionnaire, twelve teachers responded to the Follow Up Questionnaire, and of that number 8 responded to both. At the end of the year they seemed confident to select a mathematics focus, cater for the range of achievement in their classes, monitor student learning and use classroom management strategies. They seemed less confident in diagnosing student learning, making the mathematics focus of the lesson clear to their students and providing activities that engage their students. The results indicate that dealing with the literacy demands in the mathematics lesson needs more investigation.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
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