Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

Sub-Department

Educational Psychology / Research

First Advisor

Kellah Edens

Abstract

This study surveyed 82 preservice elementary teachers using items from an instrument designed to predict student achievement based on a teacher's mathematics knowledge for teaching (MKT) in numbers and operations concepts. Additional mathematics beliefs items asked participants to rate their level of agreement with math myths and math anxiety statements. Participants were categorized into three groups based on the number of elementary education content courses completed: (a) no courses (b) Math 221--fundamental principles of numbers or (c) Math 221 and Math 222--basic algebra and geometry concepts.

Preservice elementary teachers who completed Math 221 scored significantly higher on the number of MKT items answered correctly compared to participants who completed both Math 221 and Math 222. A weak, negative correlation was found between participants' numbers and operations survey section scores and math anxiety. Preservice elementary teachers who reported higher math anxiety levels had lower scores on the numbers and operations survey section.

Of interest is that Math 221, a course focusing on fundamental principles, increases the number of MKT items answered correctly and decreases math myths agreement. Yet taking an additional mathematics course, Math 222, an algebra and geometry course, reverses that trend. Results suggest courses that emphasize the mathematics preservice elementary teachers will be presenting to their students is needed in university education programs. Besides fundamental principles in mathematics, preservice elementary teachers need to be challenged in their beliefs on the nature of mathematics. Math anxiety issues also need addressing as unease with this subject is passed on to learners. The connections among mathematics knowledge for teaching, math anxiety and math myths are strong. University programs in elementary education must make the time to include all three components in their development of mathematics requirements for future teachers.

Share

COinS