Teacher research in Michigan

NEW YORK - Research done by the dean of the University of Michigan school of education was featured at length in a New York Times magazine article recently about training effective teachers. The article describes research efforts to pinpoint the education and classroom techniques that lead to successful teaching.

Deborah Loewenberg Ball, formerly an elementary math teacher and assistant professor, developed a system called Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching partly based on her own classroom experiences, the Times reported.

Ball's system includes subject knowledge of math, but also subject matter directly related to teaching math, such as understanding why students make certain number errors, how to help students understand and correct errors, and which visual aids are best for math instruction, according to the Times.

As part of her research, Ball designed a test for teachers to evaluate their knowledge of math as well as their math teaching skills, based on the MKT system, the Times reported. Cross-referencing those results with student test scores, she found that students learned more math from teachers with specific MKT skills, according to The Times.

At the University of Michigan, Ball and other faculty have developed a set of 19 practices they believe all teacher candidates should master before graduation, The Times reported.

The New York Times Magazine, "Building a Better Teacher," March 2, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "A Teacher Quality Primer: Teachers Matter," June 30, 2008