Are Taiwanese and Singaporean future teachers similar in their mathematics-related teaching competencies?
This study investigates the similarities and differences of mathematics-related teaching competencies between the future secondary school teachers of Taiwan and Singapore by using data from the international Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M), organized by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. Taiwan and Singapore are identified as the only two Asian countries integrating the Chinese/Confucian tradition in their education regarding TEDS-M. The relative strengths and weaknesses of these two countries, as compared to other TEDS-M higher-achieving Western countries, such as Germany, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, and the USA, are examined after reselecting and reclassifying the achievement items based on Niss’ (2003) mathematics competence and Hsieh’s (Secondary Education, 63(3), 2012) mathematics teaching competence structures. This study shows that Singaporean future teachers are weaker in the competence of devising formal mathematical arguments and transforming heuristic ideas into valid proofs than Taiwanese future teachers. Taiwan and Singapore demonstrate relative strengths at primary, lower-, and upper-secondary levels in mathematics competencies but show relative weaknesses at the tertiary level than do other higher-achieving Western countries. Comparing these two countries, Taiwan shows relative strengths at upper-secondary and tertiary levels, and Singaporean strengths are at primary and lower-secondary levels. This distinction is primarily because of the thought-oriented category of mathematics competencies. This study also finds that Taiwan and Singapore belong to different clusters compared with the higher-achieving Western countries regarding their future teachers’ relative strengths and weaknesses in either mathematics or mathematics teaching competence.