Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 6: Teachers and Instruction

Chapter 6 presents information about mathematics teachers and instruction. Teachers’ reports are given on their educational background, teaching preparation, and instructional practices. Information is also provided about how teachers spend their time related to teaching tasks, the materials used in instruction, the activities students do in class, the use of calculators and computers in mathematics lessons, the role of homework, and the reliance on different types of assessment.


Teachers and the instructional approaches they use determine the mathematics students learn. They structure the content and pace of lessons, introducing new material, selecting various instructional activities, and monitoring students’ developing understanding of the concepts studied. Teachers may help students use technology and tools to investigate mathematical ideas, analyze students’ work for misconceptions, and promote positive attitudes towards mathematics. They may also assign homework and conduct formal and informal assessments to evaluate achievement. Chapter 6 presents mathematics teachers’ reports on some of these issues.

Because the sampling for the teacher questionnaires was based on participating students, teachers’ responses do not necessarily represent all eighth-grade mathematics teachers in each participating entity. Rather, they represent teachers of the representative samples of students assessed. It is important to note that when information from the teacher questionnaire is reported, the student is always the unit of analysis. That is, the data shown are the percentages of students whose teachers reported on various characteristics or instructional strategies. Using the student as the unit of analysis makes it possible to describe the mathematics instruction received by representative samples of students. Although this perspective may differ from that obtained by simply collecting information from teachers, it is consistent with the TIMSS goals of examining the educational contexts and performance of students.

The teachers who completed the questionnaires were the mathematics teachers of the students who took the TIMSS 1999 test. The general sampling procedure was to sample a mathematics class from each participating school, administer the test to those students, and ask their teacher to complete the questionnaire. Thus, the information about instruction is tied directly to the students tested. Sometimes, however, teachers did not complete the questionnaire assigned to them, so most entities had some percentage of students for whom no teacher questionnaire information is available. The exhibits in this chapter have special notations on this point. For a TIMSS 1999 participating entity (country, state, district, or consortium) where teacher responses are available for 70 to 84 percent of the students, an “r” is included next to the data. Where teacher responses are available for 50 to 69 percent of students, an “s” is included; where they are available for less than 50 percent, an “x” replaces the data.


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TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education