Does an Observer’s Content Knowledge Influence the Feedback Offered About Mathematics Lessons? Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (Ph.D., Mathematics) -- University of Idaho, 2016 | The purpose of this study was two-fold. First, feedback from 3 different groups of observers: math content specialists, content specialists in areas other than mathematics, and building principals, was analyzed using an inductive approach to identify themes within the feedback. Second, differences in the feedback offered by participants of the 3 groups were analyzed to determine if there is a relationship between content knowledge and the feedback offered following an observation of mathematics instruction. The analysis first identified six forms of feedback, three of which were used for further analysis. These three forms were queries, recommendations, and value statements. Further analysis of these three feedback forms revealed six feedback focus themes which described the content of the feedback given. These focus themes were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively to identify differences in the quantity and focus of the feedback given by each of the three groups. The results identified a significant difference in the focus of feedback offered by math content specialists as compared to the other study participants without a specific math content background in the focus areas of conceptual understanding and connections, and mathematics content, suggesting there is a relationship between the content knowledge of an observer and the focus of feedback they offer following a mathematics instructional segment. The importance of the relationship between content knowledge and observation feedback was then discussed within the context of current recommended mathematics instructional practices and current practices of supervision of instruction. The observer’s level of content knowledge plays a role in their ability to provide feedback with the potential to improve the conceptual nature of a lesson, as well as to identify strengths and weaknesses in the mathematical content at the center of the instructional segment. The study concludes with recommendations for improving feedback following mathematics instruction as well as suggestions for further feedback research.

publication date

  • June 1, 2016

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