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Effective Mathematics Teaching from Teachers' Perspective: National and Cross-National Studies

Jinfa Cai, Gabriele Kaiser, Bob Perry, and Ngai-Ying Wong, editors
Sense Publishers
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Sarah Boslaugh
, on

Effective Mathematics Teaching from Teachers’ Perspectives is a collection of research articles which examine how teachers from different cultures think and feel about teaching mathematics effectively. The book’s genesis was the 13th Study Conference of the International Committee on Mathematics Instruction, held in October 2002 at the University of Hong Kong, in which all the editors participated. Many of the invited authors in this collection were part of two other international efforts: a 2006 issue of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education and a special issue of ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education published in 2007 with the title “What is Effective Mathematics Teaching? A Dialogue Between East and West.”

Most of the articles are similar in quality and style to those published in professional journals of education and address questions such as how teachers from different countries view mathematics (e.g., is it a bag of tools or a unified body of knowledge?), how they believe it is best taught and learned (e.g., learner-focused or content-focused). Some focus on individual countries, including Malaysia, Germany, China, the Philippines, Finland, Australia, Hong Kong and the U.S.

There’s more focus on elementary than secondary education and this collection will be of most interest to people teaching at those levels, university students preparing for a teaching career and professors of mathematics education. But many are also interesting in a philosophical sense to people who work in mathematical fields or who teach at university and professional schools (full disclosure: I teach statistics at a medical school) but have never contemplated questions of pedagogy, let alone the different ways that people think about mathematics. I’ve been spending 15 years telling people that statistics for me is a branch of philosophy and they mostly look at me cross-eyed because to them it’s a series of procedures to deliver some answer that they want. Thanks to this collection, at least I have the vocabulary to articulate those different points of view.

The authors and editors of Effective Mathematics Teaching from Teachers’ Perspectives hold a variety of academic and professional positions in Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States.

Sarah Boslaugh is an instructor in the Washington University School of Medicine and a free-lance writer based in St. Louis, MO. Her books include An Intermediate Guide to SPSS Programming: Using Syntax for Data Management (Sage, 2004), Secondary Data Sources for Public Health: A Practical Guide (Cambridge, 2007), and Statistics in a Nutshell (with Paul Watters; O'Reilly, 2008), and she also served as Editor-in-Chief for The Encyclopedia of Epidemiology (Sage, 2008).

The table of contents is not available.