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November 2001, Volume 32, Issue 5


Does Interest Matter? The Relationship Between Academic Interest and Achievement in Mathematics
Olaf Koller, Jurgen Baumert, Kat Schnabel
A total of n = 602 students (59.5% female) from academically selected schools in Germany were tested at three time points--end of Grade 7, end of Grade 10, and middle of Grade 12--in order to investigate the relationships between academic interest and achievement in mathematics. In addition, sex differences in achievement, interest, and course selection were analyzed. At the end of Grade 10, students opted for either a basic or an advanced mathematics course. Data analyses revealed sex  differences in favor of boys in mathematics achievement, interest, and opting for an advanced mathematics course. Further analyses by means of structural equation modeling show that interest had no significant effect on learning from Grade 7 to Grade 10, but did affect course selection--that is, highly interested students were more likely to choose an advanced course. Furthermore, interest at the end of Grade 10 had a direct and an indirect effect (via course selection) on achievement in upper secondary  school. In addition, results suggest that, at least from Grade 7 to Grade 10, achievement affected interest--that is, high achievers expressed more interest than low achievers. The findings underline the importance of interest for academic choices and  for self-regulated learning when the instructional setting is less structured.

A Foucauldian Gaze on Gender Research: What Do You Do When Confronted With the Tunnel at the End of the Light?
Margaret Walshaw
This article, the focus of which is on girls in mathematics, engages poststructural debates over knowledge and power to explore how female subjectivity is lived within the classroom, and the first section looks at some recent feminist reconstructionists'  proposals developed from the idea of "different experience." The second section is set within the context of the poststructuralists' undermining of the "light" of progressive development, central to the Enlightenment project. Foucauldian ideas are introduced  for a theoretical discussion about the ways in which the girl becomes gendered through available discourses and practices. Building on this discussion, the third  section provides an analysis of some moments of classroom life and offers a different story about girls in school   mathematics.

Interactions Among Instructional Practices, Curriculum, and Student Achievement: The Case of Standards-Based High School Mathematics
Daniel F. McGaffrey, Laura S. Hamilton, Brian M. Stecher, Stephen P. Klein, Delia Bugliari, Abby Robyn
A number of recent efforts to improve mathematics instruction have focused on professional development activities designed to promote instruction that is consistent with professional standards such as those published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. This paper describes the results of a study investigating the degree to which teachers' use of instructional practices aligned with these reforms is related to improved student achievement, after controlling for student background characteristics  and prior achievement. In particular we focus on the effects of curriculum on the relationship between instructional practices and student outcomes. We collected data on tenth-grade students during the 1997-98 academic year. Some students were enrolled in integrated math courses designed to be consistent with the reforms, whereas others took the more traditional algebra and geometry sequence. Use of instructional practices was measured through a teacher questionnaire, and student achievement was measured using both the multiple-choice and open-ended   components of the Stanford achievement tests. Use of standards-based or reform practices was positively related to achievement on both tests for students in integrated math courses, whereas use of reform practices was unrelated to achievement in the more  traditional algebra and geometry courses. These results suggest that changes to instructional practices may need to be coupled with changes in curriculum to realize effects on student achievement.

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