You are here

The Mathematics Education of Prospective Secondary Teachers Around the World

Marilyn E. Strutchens, et al.
Springer Open
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
ICME-13 Topical Surveys
[Reviewed by
Peter T. Olszewski
, on

This topical survey from ICME-13 examines the recent trends in the research, practices, and international perspectives on how to prepare secondary mathematics teachers entering the profession from the years 2005–2015. The book describes the State-of-the-Art, including various international reports ranging from small to large studies. The systematic review has four themes: field experiences; technologies, tools, and resources; teachers’ knowledge; and teachers’ professional identities. The authors discuss what is known in the field and what still needs to be discovered.

As noted on pages 3–4 of the chapter on “Current Research on Prospective Secondary Mathematics Teachers’ Knowledge,” there is a recognition that the knowledge of mathematics needed by prospective secondary school teachers’ (PSMTs) is of a different nature. Therefore new theoretical and methodological frameworks are needed to study it (Speer et al. 2015).

One of the large-scale projects outlined in section 4.1 is Mathematics Teaching in the 21st Century (MT21), an international study that addresses the preparation of middle school mathematics teachers with the participation of six countries: South Korea, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Germany, The United States of America, and Mexico.

Another project is called the TEDS-M, which looks at 17 country-regions. Here, approaches to teaching, structures, and characteristics of programs are studied. It is the first international study on mathematics teacher knowledge and offers a unique theoretical and methodological perspective taking into account contextual characteristics of mathematics teacher education. The main results of the TEDS-M report are outlined on pages 7–8 of the book, along with content knowledge (CK) and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Here, we learn that teachers from Taiwan, Russia, Singapore, Germany, and Poland outperformed the participants from the other countries in terms of CK. Also, participants from Switzerland, Singapore, Poland, and Germany had scores above the international mean regarding PCK.

In addition to these large and small-scale studies, the book also discusses how teachers can formulate their thinking skills through the use of technology by writing connection-building questions and videos. Pages 20–22 of the book present these findings: six articles are explored of pedagogical ideas. The research presented by Akkoc (2015), examined formative assessment skills within a computer-learning environment with GeoGebra and TI Nspire. Davis (2015) investigated how 10 PSMTs read, evaluated, and adapted elements of a textbook lesson involving symbolic manipulation capabilities of CAS. One of the most important and extensive bodies of research on video learning is discussed. In it, Santagata et al. (2007) looked at how a video-based methods course can develop PSMTs’ ability in analyzing lessons guided by a three-step analysis framework that values goals and parts of the lesson, student learning, and teaching alternatives.

A recent development in mathematics education has been the increasing attention on field experiences of PSMTs. On page 33 of the book, the Report of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Clinical Preparation and Partnerships for Improved Student Learning, commissioned by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education [NCATE] (2010) in the U.S., suggests, “[A] clinically based preparation for prospective teachers, which fully integrates content, pedagogy, and professional coursework around a core of clinical experiences.” In other words, the NCATE (2010) suggests that prospective teachers gain experience through a clinical continuum where developmental sequences of teaching during the state student teacher programs be delineated with experiences such as learning students names, grade keeping, and taking lunch count to more advanced aspects such as differentiating instruction, creating assessments, and implementing unit plans. The process of going through the student teaching process is critical for young prospective teachers and is a very valuable experience.

My own student teaching was an eye-opening experience for me, making me think about how to handle certain situations with administrators and parents and preparing me for the profession through the guidance of a mentor (cooperating teacher). Many teacher preparation programs in many countries, however, find it difficult to place PSMTs with cooperating teachers who are prepared to foster and mentor their growth. This is mostly due to the lack of proficiency with this approach to teaching, which is outlined in the National Council of teachers of Mathematics [NCTM] (1989, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2014). Page 34 outlines the reason why: The cooperating teachers’ lack of proficiency in using an inquiry approach to teaching may be attributed to their beliefs systems of lack of professional development related to the approach, or a combination of these factors.

The one important idea presented throughout the book is that PMSTs be exposed to both coursework and field experiences to clearly understand the role of a teacher. While involved in the certification process, it is important to reflect on everything learned and experienced. These reflections will help the PMSTs learn from their mistakes and make connections to the learning process of becoming an educator. Given the importance of having teachers ready to teach the students of the 21st century, I see this topic as an ever growing research field in mathematics education.

Peter Olszewski is a Mathematics Lecturer at The Pennsylvania State University, The Behrend College, an editor for Larson Texts, Inc. in Erie, PA, and is the 362nd Pennsylvania Alpha Beta Chapter Advisor of Pi Mu Epsilon. He interested in mathematics education, Cayley Color Graphs, Markov Chains, and mathematical textbooks. He can be reached at Outside of teaching and textbook editing, he enjoys playing golf, playing guitar and bass, reading, gardening, traveling, and painting landscapes.

See the table of contents in the publisher's webpage.