Date of Award

12-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Vena M. Long

Committee Members

J. Amos Hatch, Ji-Won Son, Mary F. Ziegler

Abstract

The purpose of this naturalistic inquiry was to explore and analyze aspects of the reported beliefs and practices of a group of preservice elementary mathematics teacher educators. Until now, researchers have had little understanding of beliefs and practices of teachers in elementary mathematics methods classrooms, despite the fact that teacher educators’ beliefs and practices have profound effects on what happens in thousands of classrooms every day. The qualitative research in this study offered insights with the potential to inform higher educational practice in regard to the preparation of elementary mathematics teachers and mathematics teacher educators. Participants were six professors and instructors of elementary math methods courses at six different colleges and universities. A series of 18 in-depth interviews, three with each participant, allowed context, nuance, and detail to be closely examined. Typological analysis led to the emergence of six themes. They dealt with consistency, challenge, content, methods, resources, and reasons. Details related to those themes helped to illuminate what the working experience of a preservice elementary mathematics teacher is like. Study conclusions indicated (a) general consistency, with some exceptions, between reported beliefs and reported practices; (b) some common challenges faced by most participants, particularly in regard to limited elementary classroom experience, and perceived time constraints; (c) wide variation in content and methods despite agreement on teaching philosophy; (d) perceived student needs as the main reported basis of participant teaching decisions, and; (e) some indication of the extent of influence of curricular and pedagogical reform as elementary mathematics teacher educators sought to enact generally constructivist inspired teaching visions. Recommendations for educators, researchers and policy makers stemming from these conclusions have potential benefits for elementary mathematics teacher preparation.

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