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Preparing elementary teachers to teach mathematics: How pedagogy, content, and field experiences impact content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and beliefs

Jane E Strawhecker, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Concerns about the state of mathematics education in the U.S. continue to be expressed. Student achievement and attitudes toward mathematics are influenced by the elementary teacher, emphasizing the importance of quality mathematics teacher preparation. This study explored different designs and their impact on preservice teachers' beliefs about teaching mathematics, content knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge. Additionally, the relationship between domains was examined. ^ The sample included 96 preservice teachers enrolled in math methods and/or mathematics content at a small Midwestern university. Descriptive analysis, analysis of variance, and Pearson correlation were conducted to answer four research questions. ^ Results indicated that preservice teachers' beliefs about teaching elementary mathematics changed significantly during the semester. For three groups of participants, mean scores shifted toward reform-like beliefs about teaching elementary mathematics. On the contrary, beliefs for one group moved in the opposite direction. Furthermore, significant gains were made in content knowledge for all groups. Additionally, the results for this study suggest that field experiences combined with other aspects of mathematical teacher preparation further develop preservice teachers' pedagogical content knowledge. The relationships between the variables associated with the measures for beliefs, content knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge were significant, although the strength of the relationships support the notion that the instruments measured distinct domains of teacher education. ^ This study has important implications regarding the math preparation of preservice elementary teachers at similar institutions. Recommendations for further research include studies with random assignment of treatment groups and the removal of the researcher from the study. In addition, continued research is needed to determine how the structure of mathematical field experiences and the blend of content and pedagogy impact preservice teachers' content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Finally, it is recommended that longitudinal studies track preservice teachers beyond the first mathematical block of preparation into the first years of teaching to examine how this knowledge impacts teachers' practice. ^

Subject Area

Education, Elementary|Education, Teacher Training

Recommended Citation

Strawhecker, Jane E, "Preparing elementary teachers to teach mathematics: How pedagogy, content, and field experiences impact content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and beliefs" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3131563.