Applying Design Based Research in Middle Grades Mathematics Teacher Preparation
Gonzalez, Monica Lyn
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Background: Teacher preparation programs play an important role in how teachers learn about practice. The field of teacher education has been under fire regarding its effectiveness at preparing future teachers for the realities of the classroom. In particular, the population of linguistically diverse students is increasing drastically, and teacher preparation programs are tasked with preparing new teachers with knowledge and skills for teaching these students. How can teacher preparation programs know they have been effective in meeting this responsibility? Purpose: This study leveraged tenets of design based research to refine features of the first of three middle grades mathematics methods courses of a teacher preparation program. The intent was to identify ways in which the features supported preservice teachers’ knowledge and skill development for teaching mathematics to and for linguistically diverse students. Methods: Design based research methods were chosen because of the capitalization on an iterative process within a naturalistic setting that builds new theories within context. Course assignments, assessments, and expected learning outcomes of twenty preservice teachers were analyzed qualitatively to ascertain how the components of the methods course needed refinement to improve upon preservice teachers’ development of knowledge and skills for teaching mathematics to linguistically diverse students. Results: The data showed growth in the preservice teachers’ knowledge for identifying linguistic accommodations. However, they need additional support in connecting those accommodations to the mathematics content. They were able to elicit a student’s problem solving process but evaluated mathematical understanding based on their personal assumptions instead of using evidence from the interaction. Conclusion: Future iterations of the mathematics methods course should be designed to focus on evidence-based interpretations of student thinking and continue to develop the domains of knowledge that inform instructional decisions for teaching mathematics to and for linguistically diverse students.