The overall aim of the Improving Middle Years Mathematics and Science (IMYMS) project was to explore the explore the nature and significance of subject cultures in framing teacher and school practice in mathematics and science and to develop a middle years school improvement model that takes account of these subject cultures in influencing school and teacher change. The project also investigated ways in which effective pedagogies in mathematics and science can be monitored; and ways in which higher order learning outcomes in mathematics and science can be reliably assessed.
The project has worked with more than 30 schools in four clusters to support them in planning for and implementing change. A framework describing effective mathematics and science pedagogies was developed, and used as the basis for auditing procedures that track classroom practice. Instruments were developed and used to probe: teacher classroom practice; student perceptions of classroom practice and learning preferences; knowledge outcomes; reasoning in science and mathematics; understanding of the nature of science and mathematics; and performance skills in mathematics and science investigations. Data sources have also included questionnaire data, interviews, school reports and field notes. Video data was also collected and used for stimulated recall interviews concerning teacher beliefs and practices.
In order to support teachers and schools to improve their practice, the project team worked with cluster educators in each of the clusters, and with school coordinators, through a number of network meetings including an initial ‘leading change’ workshop, through cluster visits, and the provision of auditing and planning instruments supported by data analysis support. The nature of the subject cultures of, and effective pedagogies in, mathematics and science, was explored using interview data with effective teachers, literature exploration, interviews with project teachers to map characteristics of their practice, the team’s experience of the construction and analysis of achievement tests, a video and interview study of teachers of mathematics and science, and student perceptions data.
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