Pedagogical Content Knowledge: Preservice Teachers Working with Fractions
Dr. Eric Mann
Mathematical content related to fractions can be difficult to understand, both conceptually and procedurally. In order to help elementary students develop a better understanding of fractions, preservice teachers must understand and be prepared to teach content related to fractions. In the Math for Elementary and Middle School Teachers course, an intervention involving pedagogical content knowledge was implemented in order to increase preservice teachers’ ability to execute and explain various methods and models of problem solving related to fractions. Preservice teachers were exposed to pedagogical content knowledge through experiences such as analyzing samples of student work, watching videos of elementary students learning material in educational settings, and becoming familiar with a variety of models and explanations that could be used in mathematical problem solving. While these types of activities were integrated throughout the course, this research specifically analyzed the effect of experiences in the fractions unit. In addition to taking a Learning Mathematics for Teaching pretest and posttest developed by the University of Michigan, which covered material related to fractions and other topics, the preservice teachers in the class wrote journal entries on their developing knowledge about fractions. Initially, 57 preservice teachers participated in the course; however, data from some pre and posttests was not used since some individuals dropped or added the course without completing the fractions unit or without taking both tests. Data from 51 preservice teachers is being analyzed, and research is ongoing.
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