Transfer of Practices and Conceptions of Teaching and Learning Mathematics

May. 01, 2013

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Volume 35, Issue 2, p. 103–124, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article presents a study which examined the transfer of pedagogical practices and conceptions of teaching and learning mathematics in the process of early professional identity development.

This study employed a case study approach.
The study was conducted in a 5-year bachelor of arts/master of teaching (BA/MT) preparation program at a university in USA.
Data were collected through interviews conducted with the head of the mathematics education program, the general methods instructor, and three cohorts of preservice mathematics teachers.


The findings reveal that participants explained that professional development, as measured by the transfer of teacher-preparation program (TPP) practices and beliefs, was based upon innate ability and personality, pre-training experiences, preservice experiences, and in-service experiences.
Furthermore, 71% of all inservice observations were coded as TPP practices, therefore, confirming the participants’ articulated perceptions about the significance of preservice preparation.

Although deemed effectual, the participants recognized that their preservice program had room to improve.
Therefore, this article concludes with a few suggestions regarding improving preservice preparation and future research.

Instructional suggestions
The author suggests that preservice teachers should have input regarding what they want to get out of their classes.
With appropriate scaffolding, they should structure their learning groups and projects so that they find value in these activities.
Furthermore, preservice teachers should be taught using examples that connect to prior experiences, the real world, and to other pedagogical concepts.
By exposing preservice teachers to such connected pedagogical practices, they are better equipped to transfer all of these, rather than some at the expense of others.

In addition, preservice teachers should experience disequilibrium within their zone of proximal development, just as they are instructed to do with their future students.
This should occur in course work and field placement.
In essence, to maximize retention and transfer, teacher educators must teach their students to use authentic learning strategies that facilitate conceptual understanding of pedagogical practices.
Finally, teacher educators must be aware that the transformation toward innovation utilized by preparation programs is evolutionary and not immediate.
If they want to see change, they have to be patient and recognize the smallest successes.

Updated: May. 19, 2015