Teacher perceptions of the use of mathematics coaches for the improvement of instruction
The purpose of the study was to examine teacher perceptions of the impact mathematics content coaches have had on instructional practices and on student learning. Data were collected from teachers in Grades 3, 4, and 5 who were teaching in five schools during the 2009-2010 academic school year. The Alabama State Department of Education survey was used to collect data. The survey consisted of two parts. The first part was composed of 41 questions using a 5-point Likert-type scale. The second part consisted of three open-ended questions. Interview data were collected from a purposeful sample of teachers. Responses to survey items can be grouped into four main themes: performance, collaboration, environment, and attitude. There was little difference found among the responses. Within all four themes, the response type of almost always has the highest frequency of occurrence (62%), with usually being the second most chosen response (23%). These results demonstrate that participants are very satisfied with the mathematics coaches' performance, collaboration, environment, and attitude. Few respondents chose usually, sometimes, and rarely as their response choice. Responses to the open-ended questions revolved around three main themes: lesson modeling, which included observation and feedback; lesson development; and frequency of teachers meetings with their coach. A few respondents did not have the opportunity to meet with their coach on a weekly basis. The overwhelming theme suggested by those who responded to the final question revolved around spending more time in the classroom. Interviewees commented that their content coach had taught them to be reflective thinkers through observation and feedback. Although survey data were subjected to an exploratory factor analysis, given the relatively small number of survey respondents, these data are of limited value. They are, however, reported because of the wide use of the instrument in Alabama. These data suggest that there were four latent factors underlying the 41 survey questions: performance, collaboration, environment, and attitude. Although Cronbach á coefficients indicated strong internal consistency for all four factors, these should be interpreted cautiously, because of the small sample size.