Type of Proposal
24-3-2015 1:00 PM
24-3-2015 1:50 PM
Faculty of Education
Dr Dragana Matrinovic - Faculty of Education
Importance of the Project
Many studies found that Canadian students are not performing well in mathematics at the elementary and secondary school level compared to other countries in the world (Ministers of Education Canada, 2010). In 2012, Canada was ranked 13th in mathematics under the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, 2012). This project was designed to explore root causes of the problem and to suggest how to improve math students’ performance at school level. This report will also identify success criteria in Mathematics of some selected countries, and propose how to implement those factors in Canada.
Existing State of Knowledge
In a recent paper published in macleans.ca, Tamsin McMahon reported that Canadian students spent more time in the school, yet their math score is low compared to other countries. According to the OECD, Canadian students spend 75 minutes on average in the class, which is significantly more time in math class than their counterparts in countries that outperform them at math. Specifically, Canadian students spend twice as much time in math class as students in Finland, which is a country that slightly outranks Canada on math scores, and significantly more time than other top-performing countries, such as the Netherlands and Japan.
An article written by Smol (2011) from CBC highlights the reasons for Finland schools being superior at what they teach. Especially in math, they apply various non-traditional techniques to engage their students: including no requirement for homework, no high stakes tests, no tardy bells, and a short school day.A study by Malaty (2006) reported that academic qualification of math teachers is important in improving students’ math performance. Finland teachers need to have a Master’s degree: a M.Ed. for a primary school teacher (Grades 1 - 6) and a M.A. or M.Sc. for a secondary school teacher (Grades 7-12). On the other hand, Canadian teachers require a B.Ed from a university to qualify for teaching. In the OECD’s PISA study, Finns ranked in the top quarter in both mathematics and the natural sciences and, also according to the IEA’s TIMSS 1999 study, Finns were above the international average (Revision of the National Joint Programme, p.4)
This research intended to identify factors that may have contributed to Canadian students performing worse on international math tests, compared to students in other countries, like Finland.
Information for this study was obtained from various existing resources such as articles from the well-known journals, magazines, and newspaper articles. After the information was gathered, the differences between the school systems were noted and ranked as most probable causes based on the relevancy of the resource.
As discussed earlier referring to many reports, it is obvious that Canadian teachers have given lot of emphasis on improving languages but have lack of stress on improving numeracy skills. However, teachers’ special care, support and training will help Canadian students to build strong foundation in mathematics at elementary level to avoid struggle at secondary level. The findings suggest that the teachers' qualifications to teach mathematics should be up to the level of masters. Canada should also allow its teachers to have more control on curriculum especially for mathematics, since it is a difficult topic for many students. It is expected that education board will take effective measures to improve mathematics of the Canadian students by implementing suggested findings in order for them to be competitive internationally.
Why is Canada scoring low in mathematics?