Title

International teachers' judgment of gifted mathematics student characteristics

Date of Completion

January 2003

Keywords

Education, Mathematics|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Today's competitive job market demands a technologically savvy workforce of well-trained engineers and mathematicians. Teachers hold a unique position to identify and develop their students' gifts and talents to become future professionals in these fields. This study examined the differences and similarities of teachers' perceptions of gifted mathematics students in South Korea, Turkey, and the United States. A survey instrument called the Teachers' Judgments of Gifted Mathematics Student Characteristics was used to collect data from 947 high school mathematics teachers. A factor analysis resulted in three factors: School Smart Mathematics Students, Mathematics Perspective for the Real World, and Creative Problem Solver. ^ The findings of this study suggest that teachers who taught higher grade levels were less likely to value the three factors. Teachers who taught mathematics longer years were more likely to value all three factors. Male teachers were less likely to value Mathematics Perspective for the Real World than female teachers. Teachers who had higher degrees were less likely to value School Smart Mathematics Students. ^ In the United States, teachers who taught mathematics longer years were more likely to value Creative Problem Solvers and Mathematics Perspective for the Real World. United States teachers valued the Creative Problem Solvers factor the lowest of the three countries, although experienced teachers valued it more than inexperienced teachers. Turkish mathematics teachers valued all three factors more than teachers in the other two countries. South Korean teachers valued School Smart Mathematics Students and Mathematics Perspective for the Real World factors the least. ^ Turkish teachers favored a variety of mathematics teaching strategies more than American and South Korean teachers. South Korean teachers valued practicing in class as an effective approach, abstractness of mathematics, sufficiency of basic computational skills to teach mathematics, and learning mathematics as a set of algorithms or rules more than American teachers. American teachers felt less strongly about the abstractness of mathematics than did other teachers. American teacher felt more strongly about students' natural talent for mathematics than South Korean teachers. American teachers also felt more strongly than other teachers about using more than one representation to teach a mathematics topic. ^