The Mathematical Content Preparation of Elementary Teachers

Brooke Max, Purdue University


Prospective elementary teachers’ (PTs) preparation often includes courses focused on deepening K–8 mathematical content knowledge and, in some cases, considering the content from a teacher’s perspective. Standards and recommendations from professional organizations have included attention to mathematical content (e.g., Mathematical Education of Teachers II [MET II]), mathematical processes (e.g., Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Standards for Mathematical Practice [CCSSM SMPs]), and mathematical proficiency (e.g., Adding It Up). The publication of these documents has raised questions about how mathematics teacher educators (MTEs) incorporate these standards and recommendations in PTs’ coursework, particularly in Mathematics Content for Elementary Teachers (MCfET) courses, which are courses that primarily focus on mathematical content with some attention to pedagogy. In this dissertation, I present results from the analysis of a national survey of MTEs on the mathematical content preparation of elementary teachers reported in four manuscripts. In the first manuscript, I described the participants of the study, the institutions to which they belong, and the resources they used in MCfET courses. Findings indicated that these MTEs are most often experienced instructors who used a variety of resources (e.g., manipulatives, technology, textbooks) as they addressed various content and standards. In the second and third manuscripts, I analyzed content activity descriptions provided by the respondents through three lenses: MET II content domains, Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching subject matter knowledge domains, and CCSSM SMPs. I reported ways in which MTEs incorporated content and process standards in MCfET courses both explicitly and implicitly, focusing on the two areas of (1) specialized content knowledge, or knowledge unique to teaching, in the content areas of Geometry and Measurement & Data and (2) the Modeling, Precision, and Regularity SMPs. In the fourth manuscript, I reported messages communicated to PTs in MCfET course syllabi. Findings indicated that most syllabi included messages that communicated about mathematical disposition. Messages about the role of collaboration in a mathematics classroom were also present, including the implicit message that collaboration was valued in the classroom but not necessarily in the assessment structure. Together, these four manuscripts provide insights into the mathematical preparation of elementary teachers through instructor backgrounds, program information, MCfET course content activities, and MCfET course syllabi.




Newton, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Mathematics education

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