The effects of cognitive teaching techniques on ninth grade mathematics achievement : shifting the balance for special populations
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the within school and between-class effects of cognitive teaching techniques on the mathematics learning of special populations of urban high school students. Student mathematics learning was the dependent variable. Application of a teaching technique based on Reuven Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment, a clinical questioning method used to increase cognitive functioning of adolescents with mental disabilities was the experimental intervention. In classrooms the technique was characterized by task analysis, definition of terms, and discourse designed to access students’ experiences and funds of knowledge. Questioning was designed to generate critical thinking, elicit interest, and assess student learning during classroom interaction between students and with the teacher. vi The independent variables were gender, ethnicity, income, ability, risk factors, special services, and teacher. A theoretical model of equity (Secada, 1992), equal opportunity (Coleman, 1967), and cognitive psychology (Feuerstein, 1983), provided the conceptual framework. Fifty-six ninth grade students formed the purposive sample and comparison group design for this quasi-experimental study. In addition, action research provided a model for qualitative elements of the study, including focus groups, interviews, journal-writing, and observations. Teachers who were in the second year of implementing the teaching technique provided the experimental treatment. Scores on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills provided the measurement for mathematics achievement. Eighth grade TAAS scores provided the initial score for the participating students and the Texas Learning Index (TLI) was assigned to each of their scores. The TLI was a percentage probability that the student would pass the Exit Level TAAS in tenth grade with a score of at least 70. Subsequent interim scores were determined at five and ten months through test simulations, and the final score was recorded from each student’s Exit Level TAAS math score. Results showed significant relationships between student performance gains and the implementation of the teaching technique. Results also revealed a significant interaction between math ability and classroom behaviors associated with the teaching technique. Results of the study showed a significant narrowing of the historical gaps in performance of students grouped by background variables. The study also revealed that the in-class interactions between the teacher and students, and teachers’ attitudes toward the students had a strong effect on student performance. Finally, the results of the study showed that the effects of the teaching technique were not highly dependent on the level of implementation, but that the level of implementation and commitment of teachers to using the technique were dependent upon the support and facilitation skills of administrators.