Nancy Drickey, Linfield College professor of education, is helping to solve the mystery of why United States students score lower on math tests than their international counterparts.
Last spring, Drickey traveled to three countries — Australia, Fiji and New Zealand — to continue her research on international mathematics education.
The United States ranked 19th of 38 countries participating in the eighth grade mathematics portion of the 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) exam, which Drickey says is a key indicator for assessing math and science at the international level. TIMSS data has been collected from students in fourth and eighth grades, and now eleventh grade, five times since 1995.
“I wanted to observe classes globally to discover why students in other countries score higher on TIMSS exams than U.S. students,” she said.
Her international math classroom observations started in 2007 as a participant in a Fulbright-funded Teacher Education Administrators’ Seminar in India. Since then she has included Linfield students in her data collection in Japan (2009), China (2011), and Malaysia and Singapore (2012).
Drickey’s 2016 sabbatical research took her to Australia, Fiji and New Zealand, where she interviewed teachers, administrators and college professors. While abroad, she observed more than 20 classrooms in the three countries and also attended two math conferences in Sydney, Australia. Now that the data has been collected, Drickey is analyzing the results with help from Linfield students. Once the analysis is complete, she plans to release the findings through conference presentations and publication.
“I love sharing my research findings with students in my classes,” said Drickey. “We read about the TIMSS research and other studies but it gives so much more meaning to include my personal experiences and insights. It has been especially rewarding to include Linfield students in interviews and classroom observations abroad and to include them in research presentations and publications.”
Drickey earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. at Utah State University. She currently serves on the executive board of the National Council of Supervisors of Math as the Regional Director for Oregon, Washington, California, and Hawaii. Previously, she served on the board of the Oregon Council of Teachers of Math, was president of the Utah Council of Teachers of Math, was co-president of Teachers of Teachers of Mathematics, taught mathematics and computer science in middle and high schools and developed instructional material for the Utah State Office of Education.
She was an evaluator for the National Study of K-12 Mathematics and Science Education in the United States, the Western Institute for Research and Evaluation and a variety of math education testing services. She helped disseminate evaluation standards as assistant editor of the “American Journal of Evaluation” and served as a reviewer on the Expert Panel on Mathematics and Science Education for the U.S. Department of Education. She currently serves as the evaluator for the recently funded S-STEM grant at Linfield.
Drickey’s latest research was supported by a faculty development grant, Dean’s Travel Funds and the Education Department.