Learning to Teach Mathematics through Inquiry: A Focus on the Relationship between Describing and Enacting Inquiry-Oriented Teaching

Published: 
Jun. 20, 2010

Source: Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Volume 13, Number 3, 243-263.
(June, 2010)

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This research had two purposes:
(1) to explore the experiences of prospective teachers learning to teach mathematics within an inquiry-based teacher education programme; and
(2) to study whether and how these teachers enacted what they had learned in their teacher preparation programme in their first year of teaching.

Method and Participants

The author videotaped the teaching sessions of 12 volunteer prospective teachers as they worked on the mathematics and pedagogy tasks. The author also interviewed nine of these volunteers once they had left the programme in the Spring.

The author then followed three of these beginning teachers, as they embarked upon their first year of teaching, and continued to interview them during the year. The author also videotaped their mathematics teaching throughout the year, averaging nine videotaped lessons per teacher between September and June. The author also conducted task-based interviews at the end of the year with some of the children who had been part of the classroom videotaping to gain more information about the children’s mathematical understanding.
The author focuses in the article on Daniel who is one of the three beginning teachers in whose classrooms the author videotaped throughout the first year of teaching.

The analysis draws on interviews with one graduate, and on video data collected in his multi-aged Grade 1/2 classroom, to explore some of the ways in which this new teacher enacted inquiry-based teaching approaches in his first year of teaching and to consider his capacity to communicate his understanding of inquiry.

Conclusion 

inquiry-based materials and classroom practices have been shown to enhance student achievement and/or mathematical understanding as well as attitudes or motivation . However, most of the beginning teachers in this study had not experienced inquiry-based mathematics teaching during the teacher education programme. Several reported that the non-graded nature of the teacher education programme was key in their willingness to undertake an additional mathematics course in their final semester, and that the programme philosophy and structure had encouraged them to take on the challenge of addressing the gaps in their preparation, and convinced them of the value of inquiry-based practices.

The author argues that teacher educators should continue to encourage such practices through their preservice teacher preparation programmes. The results of this study show that, given a certain kind of programme philosophy, structure, and activities, beginning teachers can be taught to enact strong inquiry-based practices.

Updated: Dec. 21, 2010
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