An Infiltrative Approach to Reform Mathematics Teaching:An Analysis of Chinese Middle School Teachers’ Lessons

Lingqi Meng, Jian Wang


The newly established mathematics curriculum and teaching standards in the U.S. and many other countries direct mathematics teachers to transform their lesson structure, focus, and activities from the popular teacher directed instruction to student inquiry-oriented teaching. An appropriate understanding about how mathematics teachers implement the above change constitutes an important knowledge base for relevant policy making to mathematics teaching reform. Framed by the constructivist and the situated assumptions about teacher reform, this study examines the changed structural patterns, focuses, and activities of mathematics lessons and the teaching contexts shaping these changes drawing on mathematics lessons that 30 Chinese teachers taught and the interviews with some of them about their lessons. The study found that most of these teachers designed their lessons by infiltrating the ideas and activities envisioned by the reform curriculum standards into their existing teaching structure without undergoing a lesson overhaul transformation. The centralized curriculum standards and materials, contrived teaching organization, and accountability assessment in China impacted importantly on the patterns, focuses, and activities of their lessons designed to reflect their ideas of mathematics teaching reform.

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