The effects of four selected constructs of opportunity to learn on mathematics achievement of grade 12 students in New Providence, Bahamas

Janet Maria Collie-Patterson

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if a single dimension of opportunity to learn could be identified using four selected components of teachers' characteristics, students' characteristics, schools' characteristics, and classrooms' characteristics; and to determine if each of the four components of opportunity to learn (OTL) was related to mathematics achievement as measured by the results of the June 1999, Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education mathematics examination. The primary sample of the study consisted of 1015 Grade 12 students from six public and six private schools in New Providence, Bahamas. Of the 1015 students included in the sample, a complete data set was available for 463 students. The secondary sample in this study consisted of 52 mathematics teachers who taught the participating students in the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade. Two data set were used to analyzed the data. The findings of this study indicated that the model-data-fit was reasonable indicating that there was a relationship between opportunity to learn and three selected components of teachers' characteristics, students' characteristics, schools' characteristics. The fourth component, classrooms' characteristics, was not significantly related to OTL. Each of the four components of school, student, teacher, and classroom were significantly related to mathematics achievement as measured by the Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education mathematics examination. When taken individually, course taking, teaching strategies, professional development, educational background, affiliation, strength of climate, recognition, commitment, accomplishment, socioeconomic status, attitude toward school, and student's prior ability were significantly related to mathematics achievement. However, when taken individually, manipulative use, parental involvement, and years of teaching experience were not significantly related to mathematics achievement. Furthermore, professional development, attitude toward school, strength of climate, recognition, and accomplishment were negatively related to mathematics achievement. In terms of effect size, the results of this study show that students' characteristics made the largest contribution to mathematics achievement followed by classrooms' characteristics, schools' characteristics, and then teachers' characteristics. Although each of the components of the schools' characteristics taken individually were significantly related to mathematics achievement, the set of schools' characteristics explained only about 12% of the variability in mathematics achievement. The set of students' characteristics (with parental involvement not significant) explained about 60% of the variability; classrooms' characteristics (with manipulative use not significant) explained about 36% of the variability; and teachers characteristics (with years of teaching experience not significant) explained about 8% of the variability in mathematics achievement. Schools continually seek to improve instruction and student performance in mathematics throughout the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. This research includes 15 implications and recommendations for the Bahamian school administrators and policy makers, teachers, students, and parents.