A Study of Middle School Mathematics Education in the United States, Japan, China, Malaysia, and Singapore

By Nancy Drickey, Yi Hern Chan, Andrew Bernhisel and Maylyn Foo.

Published by The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 19, 2014 $US5.00

This research extends previous studies by examining current trends and instructional methods used in middle school mathematics classrooms in Japan, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, with the intent to compare results to U.S. trends in education. Asian countries were selected based on high performance in mathematics as indicated by recent results in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. We adapted the Observation and Analytic Protocol designed by Horizon Research to gather and assess data in Asian schools. After completing the Observation and Analytic Protocol for each lesson, we rated teaching effectiveness with the aid of observation and some teacher interview data. Using indicators within the categories of lesson design, lesson implementation, mathematics content and classroom culture as a basis for rating lessons, the results were analyzed and compared to the Horizon Research study of mathematics teaching in U.S. schools. Results showed differences in curriculum (intellectual rigor, appropriateness of content) and pedagogy (teacher questioning strategies and content knowledge, and student collaboration and engagement). These differences provide teachers the opportunity to enhance their pedagogy by critically analyzing indicators of effective instruction.

Keywords: Mathematics, Pedagogy, Curriculum, International Education, East Asia

The International Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Learning, Volume 20, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.25-37. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 19, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 722.593KB)).

Dr. Nancy Drickey

Associate Dean and Associate Professor, Academic Affairs and Education Department, Linfield College, McMinnville, OR, USA

Nancy Drickey, PhD, teaches math methods courses at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon and also serves as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Budgeting and Planning. She enjoys teaching January term courses off campus, such as in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Her research interests are in international mathematics education, national mathematics standards, and the use of technology in education.

Yi Hern Chan

Student Researcher, Education, Linfield College, McMinnville, OR, USA

Yi Hern Chan, is an undergraduate student at Linfield College, majoring in elementary education with a minor in mathematics. He is from Malaysia and is actively involved in Linfield’s International Club and Men’s Glee Club.

Andrew Bernhisel

Student Researcher, Office of Academic Affairs, Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon, USA

Andrew Bernhisel, is an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah majoring in biology. He recently returned from two years of voluntary service in Brazil and speaks fluent Portuguese.

Maylyn Foo

Student, Education, Linfield College, McMinnville, OR, USA

Maylyn Foo is a graduate of Linfield College with a degree in elementary education and additional authorization to teach middle school math. She is from Malaysia and observed math classes in China, Malaysia and Singapore for this study.