The Need to Prepare Prospective Teachers to Engage in Mathematics Consultations

May 2016

Source: Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, Vol 18.2, 73-91, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study aimed to understand the characteristics of the questions and responses of prospective teachers (PTs) who engaged in a mathematics-specific consultation about how to meet the mathematics learning needs of a student with special education needs (SEN).

The participants were two groups of undergraduate PTs who were in their final year of their four-year undergraduate teacher education degrees at a large, public university in the South-eastern region of the United States.
The first group included 22 PTs enrolled in an elementary teacher preparation program (general education PTs).
The second group included 25 PTs enrolled in a special education preparation program (SPED PTs). PTs from both groups had had extensive experiences in the field (classroom) prior to the semester of this study.

The authors provided both groups an opportunity to engage in a written consultation about the mathematics learning of a student with special education needs.

The findings reveal that elementary PTs did not maximise the potential of questioning and responding stages of the consultations. The authors found that elementary PTs rarely asked about how the SEN affected the mathematics learning. They also rarely attended to either the mathematics content or the student engagement in the mathematical practice. In addition, the SPED PTs rarely provided explanations for why their recommendations would address the student’s SEN. They also rarely put their suggestions into the context of a mathematics classroom.

The authors developed recommendations for supporting both general education PTs and SPED PTs.
They recommend that teacher educators should support the general education PT in providing the SPED PT with information about the mathematics instruction context that will allow the SPED PT to understand the problem.
The authors also suggest that teacher educators would support the general education PT to frame their questions about the problem in ways that will situate the SPED PT to address knowledge of content and the student (KCS( and knowledge of content and the teacher (KCT).
Finally, they should support the SPED PT to develop an instructional hypothesis that can precisely define the problem with respect to KCS and KCT. 

Updated: Feb. 06, 2018