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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Pre-Service Teachers’ Perseverance and Perceptions of Learning Mathematics Meaningfully: The Effects of a Content Course Intervention
by McKenney, Kristin, Ph.D.(Educ.), University of Delaware, 2020, 157; 28094290
Abstract (Summary)

An important goal of reform-based teaching and learning is that students learn mathematics meaningfully. Because meaningful learning can take time to develop and require students to overcome cognitive obstacles, learners in a reform-based teaching environment must persevere in their efforts to make sense of ideas that are not immediately apparent. Pre-service teachers (PSTs) enrolled in content coursework during teacher preparation programs are no exception.

During content coursework for PSTs, mathematics teacher educators (MTEs) may use instructional practices that emphasize meaningful learning. If so, PSTs have the opportunity to learn mathematics using methods that are consistent with methods they should use as teachers, methods they may have not experienced as students. This means PSTs will need to learn that learning mathematics meaningfully will take time to develop and require them to persevere to overcome cognitive obstacles.

In this study, I investigated the effects of an intervention designed to promote the three-part idea that time for learning, productive struggle, and growth mindset are all necessary conditions for PSTs to persevere in successfully learning mathematics meaningfully. Participants for the study were two sections of PSTs enrolled in the same mathematics content course at a State university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. One section, serving as the experimental group, received the intervention (N1=17). The other section, serving as the control group, did not (N2= 17). Comparisons were made on a variety of in-class and out-of-class measures of perseverance, course assessments, final grades, and focus-group interview responses.

Quantitative analyses revealed that the intervention had influence on PSTs’ tendency to persevere during in-class activities and on course performance, as there were statistically-significant differences in measures of both, across groups. Qualitative analyses of interview transcripts revealed that the intervention was successful in shifting PSTs’ conceptions of what meaningful mathematics learning entails. Results of this study contribute to our understanding of the ways in which MTEs might enhance PSTs’ experiences with re-learning mathematics, and offer a new framework for measuring PSTs’ perseverance. Limitations of this study were that a single observer was responsible for capturing, in-the-moment, a range of in-class measures of perseverance, that out-of-class perseverance was measured indirectly rather than directly, and that the measures of academic performance could have been more targeted. Directions for future research include addressing these limitations, as well as replicating this study in the context of the first rather than in the third mathematics content course for PSTs. Having earlier exposure to the intervention may help PSTs make a sooner transition to learning mathematics in a way that aligns with reform-based approaches.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hohensee, Charles, Morris, Anne
Commitee: Jansen, Amanda, Flores, Alfinio, Nandakumar, Ratna
School: University of Delaware
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Delaware
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Teacher education, Educational psychology, Educational administration, Educational leadership, Curriculum development
Keywords: Growth mindset, Content course intervention, Mathematics content course, Perseverance, Pre-service teachers, Reform-based teaching environments, Mid-Atlantic United States, Course performance
Publication Number: 28094290
ISBN: 9798684670732
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