TEACHERS’ UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS INTEGRATION

Date

2014-05

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Abstract

In this era dominated by the importance of mathematics, science, and technology, national organizations in science and mathematics education (e.g., National Science Teachers Association and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics) advocate for teaching of science and mathematics concepts through integration. A more comprehensive understanding of what teachers understand about integration is needed to put such recommendations into practice. This study identified and described three science teachers’ understandings of science and mathematics integration. The teachers were enrolled in a master’s program that focused on the integration of science and mathematics, reflective practices, and the integration of technology into instructional practices. A case study approach included data sources such as program assignments, selected by the teacher as representative of integration, a constructed response survey, a classroom observation of an integration lesson, field notes made by the researcher, and a semi-structured interview. Data analysis strategies included unitizing, categorizing, and sorting (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) as well as continual revision, modification (Erlandson, Harris, Skipper, & Allen, 1993), and construction of coding schemes (Carspecken, 1996).

Three themes that describe the teachers’ understandings of science and mathematics integration emerged: (a) Mathematics is a means of analyzing scientific data and to enhance the explanation of scientific conclusions, (b) Content specific skills and concepts should be taught separately to allow for deeper discussion and data analysis when integrating, and (c) Integration is a catalyst for increasing student motivation for learning each discipline. The analysis also revealed that the teachers believed that integration of science and mathematics would be more effectively and efficiently implemented with appropriate support systems. The researcher recommends professional development, mentoring, and collaboration within integrated teams as strategies that would support teachers’ implementation of science and mathematics. In addition, further research should be performed to determine the effects of science and mathematics integration on student achievement in science and mathematics.

Carspecken, P. F. (1996). Critical ethnography in educational research: a theoretical and practical guide. New York: Routledge.

Erlandson, D. A., Harris, E. L., Skipper, B. L., & Allen, S. D. (1993). Doing naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, Calif.: Sage Publications.

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Keywords

Science, Mathematics, Integration

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