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An exploration of pre-service elementary teachers' mathematical beliefs

Shilling, Leah Nichole (2010) An exploration of pre-service elementary teachers' mathematical beliefs. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The important role of beliefs in the learning and teaching of mathematics has been largely acknowledged in the literature. Pre-service teachers, in particular, have been shown to possess mathematical beliefs that are often traditional in nature (i.e. viewing teachers as the transmitters of knowledge and students as the passive recipients of that knowledge). These beliefs, which are formed long before the pre-service teachers enter their teacher education programs, often provide the foundation for their future teaching practices. An important role of teacher education programs, then, is to encourage the development (or modification) of beliefs that will support the kind of (reform) mathematics instruction promoted in these programs. In this dissertation I explored the impact of different experiences within teacher education programs, particularly those related to mathematics courses, on the mathematical beliefs of pre-service elementary teachers. This exploration was structured around 3 interrelated strands of work. The first strand drew from the existing literature to illuminate the concept of beliefs and identify ways in which teacher education programs may influence and promote change in the beliefs of pre-service teachers. This review also highlighted the need to further investigate the role and impact of mathematics courses for pre-service teachers.The second strand introduced an analytic framework to examine the different views about mathematics promoted in textbooks used in mathematics courses. The findings demonstrated that the linguistic choices made by textbook authors may promote different views about mathematics and, as a result, create different learning opportunities for pre-service teachers. These findings may have several implications for textbook authors and those in teacher education programs who make decisions about textbook adoption. Finally, the third strand investigated the impact of the curriculum materials and instruction in a research-based mathematics course on the beliefs of 25 pre-service elementary teachers. The findings showed that while beliefs are often highly resistant to change, it is possible to motivate change during a single mathematics course. Specifically, the nature of the curriculum materials and the role of the teacher educator in the course were found to have an important impact on the mathematical beliefs of the pre-service teachers.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Shilling, Leah
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairStylianides, Gabriel
Committee MemberMichael, Beverly
Committee MemberAnsell, Ellen
Committee MemberForman, Ellice
Committee MemberSmith, Margaret
Date: 20 September 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 July 2010
Approval Date: 20 September 2010
Submission Date: 19 July 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: curriculum materials; linguistics analysis; mathematical beliefs; pre-service teachers; textbooks
Other ID:, etd-07192010-114226
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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