Perceptions on Enactment of the Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices by Teacher Candidates: A Replication Study
Legreid, Katherine Elizabeth
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Background: Teacher candidates are encouraged in their teacher preparation programs to enact instructional practices that support equity and access for all students. Learning to teach is complex and challenging, and teacher candidates are influenced by factors both internal and external to the teacher preparation program and their school setting. As a result, teacher candidates may not always enact practices they have learned in their teacher preparation program. Purpose: This study explored teacher candidates’ perceptions of their enactment of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics effective mathematics teaching practices (EMTP); this served as a means of understanding teacher preparation program outcomes. The study addressed the following research questions: 1. Which of the EMTP do secondary mathematics teacher candidates rank most characteristic of their teaching? 2. Which of the EMTP do secondary mathematics teacher candidates rank least characteristic of their teaching? 3. How do teacher candidates’ perceptions of their use of the EMTP change between the first and second years of their teacher preparation? 4. How do teacher candidates describe influences on their prioritization of the EMTP within their instructional practice? Methods: A Q-sort, a methodological tool developed by Stephenson (1953), was used to gain insight into how teacher candidates prioritized enactment of the EMTP which are emphasized in the teacher preparation program. A questionnaire consisting of open-ended questions and a group interview served as data sources to capture candidates’ rationale for their prioritization of practices. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze quantitative data from the Q-sort; the constant comparative method was used to analyze data from the questionnaire and group interview. Findings: On average, participants ranked the EMTPs, supporting productive struggle and posing purposeful questions, as most characteristic of their teaching. They ranked establish mathematical goals to focus learning and facilitate meaningful mathematical discourse as least characteristic of their teaching. The practice, use and connect mathematical representations, increased the most in rank from the first year to the second year, and build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding, decreased the most. Findings included influences on teacher candidates’ perception of their practice in four broad categories: 1. formal teacher preparation coursework, 2. beliefs about teaching and learning, 3. lived experiences, and 4. school-based setting. Conclusions: The findings suggest that teacher candidates may be better prepared to facilitate discussion and use goals to promote learning if the teacher preparation program further decomposes the instructional actions. Opportunities for reflection were shown to be effective and could be expanded to address EMTP that teacher candidates are less comfortable enacting. Finally, an increased focus on advocacy for equitable practices is necessary to empower teacher candidates to persist with the EMTP when faced with the pressure of accountability policy at the school level.