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Psychometric Methodology Can Make Better Math Teachers, Authors Say

Psychometric Methodology Can Make Better Math Teachers, Authors Say

Year after year, U.S. students lag behind their international peers in math as proven continuously by results from international assessments.

The under-performance has caused researchers and scholars to study why exactly U.S. students are falling behind—and how the country as a whole can improve the math instruction it provides students with. 

According to the authors of the new book “Psychometric Methods in Mathematics Education: Opportunities, Challenges, and Interdisciplinary Collaborations,” introducing psychometrics into mathematics education is one of those ways.

Authors Jonathan Templin, Andrew Izsák and Janine T. Remillard argue that psychometrics, or the science of measuring "knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits,” can be used to both prepare better math teachers and design better assessments that appropriately test students on their math knowledge.

"The overarching goal [of the book] is to facilitate research that finds better ways to integrate the two fields, thereby creating teachers who have a better understanding of what their students do and do not know, as well as helping test designers create tests that better reveal students’ mathematical understanding,” said the University of Kansas in a statement.

The authors argue that the use of psychometrics can create a better relationship between teachers and test designers for the ultimate benefit of students. The result, they say, is tests that better assess students' math knowledge, which in turn better help teachers relay material to their students.

"For example, if a student misses or struggles with a word problem, a well-designed test could determine if the student simply miscalculated or perhaps struggled with the problem due to reading trouble, not being proficient in English or other factors,” said Templin, associate professor of educational psychology and associate research professor at the Achievement and Assessment Institute at the University of Kansas.

The end goal of psychometrics in math education, then, is to provide more meaningful student data that effectively improves math education as a whole over time.

Such methodology might also be useful in determining why males are more likely to be high-performers in advanced math when compared to females. Research has indicated several different factors, such as a lack of confidence and a different method for problem-solving could lead to women’s tendency to under-perform when compared to male peers. Psychometrics, it seems, would help to explain further on these phenomena.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

11/2/2016

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