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Title: A study of how mathematics teachers in secondary schools in Hong Kong cater for students' individual differences
Author: Tseng, Ellen
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2012
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The purpose of this study is to investigate how teachers cater for students’ individual differences in the context of a reform-based Mathematics curriculum, using the topic ‘Similar triangles’. A group of six Hong Kong secondary schools in different locations, and with different banding and setting policies, took part in the study. The students were in the age-group 12 to 13 years. A naturalistic research design, without any interference from the researcher, was chosen to examine teacher behaviour. The emphasis was on observing, describing, interpreting and exploring events in the complex setting of the classroom, via a case study approach. Data were collected from the six teachers through interviews, questionnaires, and video and audio recording of five to six lessons for each teacher. There was also one focus group interview with students from each teacher’s classes. This research reports on how the methods suggested in the Curriculum Guide for catering for individual differences were implemented in the classroom. In general, the teachers involved: (1) attempted to check students’ prior knowledge, but only a small number of students was involved; (2) asked questions at different levels, but did not know about the students’ learning progress; (3) chose content which was most likely to follow the textbook; (4) were unable to vary the focus to help students to learn; and (5) could not identify what was hindering students in working out problems during seatwork. This study indicates that teachers are using their own methods to try to solve the problem of catering for student diversity, but the approaches they employ are not of a high enough quality to help students. Also, the ways in which teachers catered for individual differences in students varied considerably. This was found to depend on: the learning atmosphere; the opportunities created for student responses; variations in the scaffolding used; and the level of students’ motivation for learning. It is strongly recommended that teachers open their minds to contacts outside the classroom to refresh their teaching repertoire, and try to use some new methods which are related to the theories discussed in this research. Also, it is suggested that policy makers could build on the teachers’ experiences to enhance their ability to handle student diversity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available