The affects of a middle grades teacher education program on preservice teachers choice of teaching strategies and mathematical understanding.
This study investigated how mathematical knowledge, mathematics pedagogy, and knowledge of students' understanding in mathematics impacted middle grades preservice mathematics teachers' lesson planning and teaching strategies implemented in a mathematics classroom who have either high or low teacher efficacy. The participants were four middle grades preservice mathematics teachers in their third year of an intensive field based teacher education program. All participants completed Tschannen-Moran and Hoy's (2001) Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale Instrument, mathematics questionnaire, pre and post interviews, and teaching observations. Mathematical knowledge was derived primarily from the mathematics courses but mathematics pedagogy courses did reinforce mathematical concepts. Mathematics pedagogy was impacted by mathematics courses for participants' perception of how mathematics was taught and mathematics pedagogy courses for lesson planning and teaching strategies. The classroom teacher in the field experience was a major influence for determining the flexibility the participants perceived they had for lesson planning and teaching strategies. Knowledge of students' understanding in mathematics derived primarily from the field experience courses. All the participants were able to have experiences incorporating aspects of a conceptual lesson including student collaboration, evaluating student preconceptions, and problem solving. The gains in teacher efficacy by the participants with low teacher efficacy may be attributed to multiple field experiences in a year long teaching experience that allowed them to make connections with their mathematics and mathematics pedagogy courses. The data suggests that teacher education programs consider providing: 1) middle grades preservice mathematics teachers opportunities to make connections with the field experience, mathematics, and mathematics pedagogy courses by taking them simultaneously, 2) multiple field experiences for middle grades preservice mathematics teachers in a mathematics classroom so that the preservice teachers have opportunities to implement different teaching strategies, and 3) field placements for middle grades mathematics teachers with classroom teachers who support the sound learning and teaching practices of the teacher education program.