Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 32, No. 4, p. 52-60. (Winter, 2010)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article describes a study which explored changes in the pedagogical content knowledge of preservice teachers after teaching a mathematics lesson twice to two groups of peers.
This study addressed the following questions:
(a) How do the pedagogical content knowledge and skills of preservice teachers change based on observing, teaching, and reflecting on peer lessons taught during the methods course? and
(b) How do the specific experiences regarding teaching a lesson twice in this methods course transfer to field-based experiences?
The participants were 26 middle-level undergraduate preservice teachers (PSTs) in their second semester of the teacher education certification program sequence at a large state university in the southwestern United States.
The participants were members of two middle-level mathematics methods classes.
Each class met once a week for a 3-hour block of time.
Class meetings consisted of a variety of activities that are traditional to mathematics methods courses.
Specific class meeting dates were assigned for the PSTs to teach lessons to their peers.
Aspects of this study followed the Japanese lesson study design.
Therefore, the peers and the veteran educators debriefed after the first teaching of the lesson, and then a final debriefing occurred after the second teaching.
Data were collected through PSTs' reflections on teaching lessons twice, comments of individuals the instructor contacted after the first two days of lessons, and field-based notebook (FBN) reflections.
The findings reveal a change in pedagogical content knowledge and skills during and after this particular treatment of observing, teaching, and reflecting on peer lessons taught during the methods course.
PSTs noted concerns such as content, pacing or timing, teaching strategies, and sequencing of the lesson content.
Furthermore, the PSTs reported affective benefits including an increased confidence in standing in front of the class and less nervousness in taking the teacher's role.
This study revealed that receiving feedback from peers as well as professionals helped the preservice teachers to quickly modify the lesson and teach it to the next group of students.
First, this study revealed that PSTs readily accepted suggestions from their peers. Furthermore, having two veteran educators providing feedback from their own perspectives provided a depth of analysis not available from a single perspective.
Secondly, PSTs become active participants, instead of spectators, during peer taught lessons.
Finally, it is important to select lesson designs that require PSTs to incorporate manipulatives into their lesson. This will necessitate that they become the expert in the room.