An Exploratory Study of the Possible Alignment Between the Beliefs and Teaching Practices of Secondary Mathematics Pre-Service Teachers and Their Cooperating Teachers and Its Effects on the Pre-service Teachers' Growth Towards Becoming Reform Based Mathematics Teachers
Type of DegreeDissertation
Curriculum and Teaching
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For the mathematics reform movement to continue, cooperating teachers as well as pre-service teachers must be well equipped to carry out the Standards set forth by The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). It becomes necessary to explore the impact of the alignment or misalignment of the cooperating teachers’ practices and the pre-service teachers’ approach to teach based on their preparation. Particularly, what beliefs and practices do cooperating teachers have that support or hinder the growth of a pre-service teacher immersed into reform-based teaching? What happens when there is a misalignment of the beliefs and practices held by the cooperating teacher and the educational background of the pre-service teacher? Case studies of four different cooperating teacher/pre-service teacher pairs were used. The cooperating teachers were all teachers that were currently involved in the university’s mathematics reform initiative program. The pre-service teachers were all students that were completing requirements in a mathematics education program that immersed them in mathematics reform techniques. Throughout the study, the researcher used and collected various types of data to better understand the pairs. The forms of data included: a beliefs survey; classroom observations; interviews; and completed Reformed Teaching Observation Protocols (RTOPs) for each classroom observation. One pre-service teacher was very much reform-minded as was her cooperating teacher. Because of the support she received from her cooperating teacher, the pre-service teacher was able to flourish in her internship. Another pre-service teacher was reform-minded and her cooperating teacher was not. Even so, the pre-service teacher was able to successfully implement the techniques she had learned in her methods courses. The other two pre-service teachers ended up imitating the more traditional practices that were carried out by their cooperating teachers. It is believed that the cooperating teachers’ degree of belief in reform mathematics approaches impacted the actions of the pre-service teachers. All cooperating teachers were comfortable allowing the pre-service teachers to try the reform approaches; however, the more traditional cooperating teachers were not able to mentor the pre-service teachers in ways that would help the pre-service teachers. As a result, the traditional cooperating teachers’ respective pre-service teachers succumbed to the teaching methods used by them.