Products – The Centre for Independent Studies

Failing to teach the teacher: An analysis of mathematics Initial Teacher Education

Glenn Fahey, Jordan O’Sullivan, Jared Bussell
25 November 2021 | AP29
Failing to teach the teacher: An analysis of mathematics Initial Teacher Education

Policymakers have increasingly looked to improvements in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) as key to overcoming declining education outcomes.

The analysis in this paper validates this concern and places a specific lens on ITE for beginning mathematics teachers.

Despite clear evidence of the efficacy of explicit instruction, it is not practiced consistently and regularly in Australia’s mathematics classrooms. The analysis shows that high-performing countries more frequently apply the principles and priorities consistent with explicit instruction.

An analysis of ITE courses for beginning mathematics teachers finds a lack of emphasis on explicit instruction. This significantly contributes to insufficient implementation of evidence-based practice — particularly explicit instruction — in Australian schools.

For Australian students’ mathematics outcomes to improve, ITE must improve with it. For this reason, ITE providers require clear and unambiguous expectations for genuinely incorporating evidence-based practices into their mathematics ITE courses.

Some examples of practices that teachers should be able to demonstrate on completion of mathematics ITE include:

  • Clear teacher demonstrations that recognise implications of cognitive load.
  • Guided, scaffolded practice opportunities that allow students to students to verbalise.
  • Immediate corrective feedback to clarify and confirm students’ progress.
  • Spaced and interleaved practice to facilitate cumulative review of content.
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