Theses Doctoral

When beginning mathematics teachers report acquiring successful attributes: Reflections on teacher education

Wasserman, Nicholas Henning

Education plays a vital role in any society; so much so, that countries strive to have not only adequate, but excellent educators in their classrooms. The aim of this study was to understand how beginning secondary mathematics teachers define success and to what experiences they attribute that success. Specifically, the central research question addressed was, "To what degree were significant attributes or experiences, important to the success of the first year teaching, learned pre-teacher education program, during a program, or post-program?" The practical goal of filling classrooms with great educators needs to be informed by research on how best to recruit highly qualified candidates into the field of mathematics education and how best to facilitate the teacher preparation process. This study employed a mixed methodology, using a sample of beginning secondary mathematics teachers to gather both quantitative and qualitative data on when they reported gaining influential knowledge or experiences. In particular, input from those who have had some success as beginning mathematics teachers was desired. The interview protocol designed for these participants added depth to the survey responses. Emphasis was placed on the relative importance of the three stages, pre-, during, and post-program, in developing common attributes associated with good teaching. Two characteristics were generally discussed as developing pre-program: being a self-starting and hard-working individual, and holding a belief that every student can learn. Beginning teachers viewed these traits as important for their success. Participants also felt that they acquired both practical classroom tools and educational theory from their teacher education program; having program instructors model pedagogy and mathematical instruction, and having opportunities to practice incorporating theory into their teaching were also seen as important. These aspects distinguished particularly prominent roles that the teacher education program played in shaping its graduates. Classroom management and being flexible and adaptive to different contexts were the most notable qualities frequently reported as being learned post-program. The study's results have implications for informing the types of students a mathematics education program should try to attract or recruit and defining areas where practicum or internship components might be incorporated into the teacher education process.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Vogeli, Bruce
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 18, 2013