Exploring middle school mathematics teachers’ treatment of rational number examples in their classrooms : a multiple case study

Avcu, Ramazan
The purpose of this study was to explore middle school mathematics teachers’ treatment of rational number examples in their seventh grade classrooms. The data were collected from four middle school mathematics teachers who were teaching in different public schools in Aksaray during the fall semester of 2013-2014 education year. Data were mainly based on classroom observations, post lessons interviews, the student textbook and the middle school mathematics curriculum. The analysis of data revealed that teachers used 704 mathematically correct and 14 mathematically incorrect examples during the teaching of rational number concepts. Among the correct examples, 361 of them were spontaneous and 343 of them were pre-planned. Besides, teachers used 9 non-examples and 5 counter-examples. More importantly, findings showed that teachers employed the following principles or considerations when choosing or using rational number examples: starting with a simple or familiar case; drawing attention to students’ difficulty, error or misconception; keeping unnecessary work to minimum; taking account of examinations; including uncommon cases; and drawing attention to relevant features. Finally, this study revealed teachers’ three different poor choices of examples as mathematically incorrect examples, examples with improper language or terminology, and examples that are to be avoided in the teaching of rational number concepts. The findings of the study suggested that mathematics teachers could be provided information or training with different uses of examples in the mathematics classroom in order to enhance students’ learning experiences. The effects of national policies were also discussed.