Teaching moves and rationales of prospective elementary school teachers in one-on-one mathematical conversations with children

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Montanta L. Smithey (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Victoria Jacobs

Abstract: The narrative of what it means to be teachers and learners of mathematics is changing, redefining what we consider our vision of high-quality mathematics instruction to be. Therefore, we must think about how to support prospective and practicing teachers in enactment of this evolving vision. Responsive teaching is one type of teaching that encompasses this vision—one that requires teachers to attend to the details of children’s mathematical thinking and find ways to build on their ideas. Finding ways to elicit and build on children’s mathematical thinking using teaching moves (i.e., questions, statements, or actions) is challenging, which suggests that teacher educators need to consider the perspectives of those enacting this vision. Only then, can we find effective ways to support its enactment. Eliciting the perspectives of prospective teachers is particularly important because they often carry feelings of anxiety about teaching mathematics and uncertainty about what teaching moves to use in the moment with children. Further, similar to research that describes the importance of teachers being responsive to children’s mathematical thinking, this study is built on the assumption that it is important for teacher educators to be responsive to the thinking of prospective teachers. The purpose of this study was to understand the teaching moves and rationales of prospective teachers as they engaged with children solving mathematical story problems prior to the start of their teacher education program. Using a monostrand conversion mixed-methods design, I investigated the prospective teachers’ teaching moves, rationales, and the relationship between them. Specifically, I observed prospective teachers engaging in one-on-one problem-solving interviews with children to capture the teaching moves they made. Through stimulated-recall interviews, I retrospectively elicited their rationales for making those teaching moves. Problem-solving interviews and stimulated-recall interviews were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively. Examination of teaching moves enacted during problem-solving interviews showed prospective teachers used a range of teaching moves that fell into three main categories: (a) comprehending story problems, (b) exploring details of children’s mathematical thinking, and (c) telling information to children. Further, when prospective teachers enacted teaching moves in each category, these teaching moves took a variety of forms. Findings also revealed unexpected strengths of prospective teachers as well as room to grow in their expertise. Exploration of rationales shared during stimulated-recall interviews indicated that prospective teachers had specific rationales for enacting their teaching moves. Broadly these rationales sometimes focused on benefitting children and sometimes focused on benefitting the PSTs themselves. Findings revealed five categories of rationales. Four were parallel categories within these two broad types including rationales focused on increasing comfort (both for children and prospective teachers) and rationales focused on enhancing understanding (both of children and prospective teachers). The final rationale category focused on benefitting children by guiding their problem solving. An exploratory investigation of the relationship between categories of teaching moves rationales showed that prospective teachers’ rationales were sometimes aligned and sometimes misaligned with the teaching moves they chose. This study contributes to the research base on responsive teaching with children, in particular as it relates to prospective teachers working with children by reporting the range of teaching moves prior to engagement in a mathematics methods course. I also categorized the prospective teachers’ rationales for their teaching moves into a framework that teacher educators can use to be responsive to the thinking of prospective teachers. In additions, suggestions for future research are provided. Finally, the findings have practical implications for working with prospective teachers on responsive teaching including: (a) increasing prospective teachers’ access to research based frameworks of children’s mathematical thinking (b) using artifacts of practice from prospective teachers’ work with children, (c) expanding prospective teachers’ repertoire of teaching moves for helping children comprehend story problems, and (d) asking prospective teachers to reflect on their practice in more specific ways.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Mathematics Education, Prospective Teacher, Questioning, Rationales, Stimulated Recall Interview
Mathematics $x Study and teaching (Elementary)
Mathematics teachers $x Training of
Teaching $x Decision making
Student-centered learning

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