Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Bu, Lingguo

Abstract

So many students enter college without the conceptual knowledge of mathematical principles needed in order to succeed in higher education. Pre-service teachers entering teacher education programs are not exempt from this dilemma. While training to be educators, many pre-service teachers struggle to understand the concepts behind elementary level mathematics. These pre-service teachers will then continue in the education field and teach mathematics to the future generation. Will they teach their students the way they were taught? The purpose of this study is to investigate how pre-service teachers view their past experiences with math during their K-12 education and to compare those views with their perceptions of how they will teach math in the future. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods through surveys, short answer responses, and interviews, this study examines 38 pre-service teachers currently taking math methods courses at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in order to find out (1) how pre-service teachers view their past experiences with mathematics during their K-12 education, (2) what pre-service teachers' visions of how they will teach mathematics to their students in the future are, (3) which appears to have more influence on pre-service teachers' perceptions of their own future math teaching practices: their past learning experiences or their current teacher preparation program, and (4) what pre-service teachers perceive as effective ways of mathematics teaching and learning. Findings revealed that pre-service teachers tend to view their past K-12 math education experiences as mostly consisting of steps and procedures they were taught to memorize, but they have strong feelings about teaching mathematics for conceptual understanding instead of focusing on memorization like they were taught during their math classes in K-12 education. The results from this study also revealed that pre-service teachers feel it will be difficult not to fall back on the way they were taught mathematics when encountering unfamiliar concepts they have to teach. The need for more field experiences and learning how to incorporate project-based learning and presenting diverse ways of problem solving also came out as ways to improve teacher education programs.

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