Math for Teaching: Testing Research Hypotheses

Many Math for Teaching theses are project-based: developing new curricula, creating after-school programs, websites, etc. For any such project, you should do additional work to provide evidence for the effectiveness/usefulness of what you have created.  

There are a number of testing methods that can be employed to do this. As their use will vary significantly due to the specific nature of your thesis project, you should be sure to discuss this issue with your Research Advisor - as well as to bring this up early in conversations with your Thesis Director, once they have been assigned.

Classroom research

  • You might conduct a test of a particular teaching approach in a classroom - or in one of your colleague’s - by using a combination of teacher observations, and/or pre-/post-testing of students
  • Special care must be taken in terms of working with one’s own students

Non-classroom studies

  • You might collect information from other teachers, administrators, parents or students outside of a classroom setting as a way of providing evidence for validating the outcome of a project
  • Again, you will need to be careful about privacy issues related to the use of any quantitative data you collect, such as homework or test scores

Analysis of previously collected data

  • You might study the effects of a particular teaching method - or other education initiative - by analyzing data that have already been collected
  • In this case you will either need to use an unconventional approach, or examine a wider range of studies than has been investigated before, so that your thesis work can be considered novel

Surveys and questionnaires

  • These can be useful tools when used by themselves, or in conjunction with other sources of data - observations, attendance records, testing results, face-to-face interviews, etc.
  • Some human characteristics cannot be observed directly, and self-report forms may be the only way to collect the data you need