What Goes On Inside Latin American Math and Science Classrooms: A Video Study of Teaching Practices


  • Emma N├ñslund-Hadley Inter-American Development Bank
  • Armando Loera Varela Heur├¡stica educativa
  • Katelyn Ann Hepworth Inter-American Development Bank


Math and Science Education, Videotape Recordings, Teaching Approaches


Beyond common associated factors, such as teacher characteristics and socioeconomic background of students, little is known about how student achievement relates to differences in the pedagogical approaches used in Latin American classrooms.  This paper highlights the main findings from a qualitative study on cross-country differences in teaching practices in three Latin American countries. Of the three countries selected for the study, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic perform at the bottom of the regional comparative test, Second Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (SERCE), and the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon is one of the top performers. Our findings, based on a large sample of video recordings from sixth-grade classrooms in the three countries, indicate that certain classroom practices appear to be associated with higher levels of learning. Teachers who actively engage students in activities that promote analytical and critical-thinking skills and move beyond a procedural understanding may lead to better performance on the SERCE assessments. However, drill, practice, and memorization predominate in all three countries.

Author Biographies

Emma Näslund-Hadley, Inter-American Development Bank

Education Division Lead Specialist

Armando Loera Varela, Heurística educativa

Independent Research and Director

Katelyn Ann Hepworth, Inter-American Development Bank

Education Division Consultant