Developing Understanding of Mathematical Modeling in Secondary Teacher Preparation

December 2016

Source: Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, Volume 19, Issue 6, (2016), 523–545

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The present study explores the evolution of prospective teachers’ understanding of mathematical modeling through the implementation of a modeling module.

Eleven secondary prospective teachers participated in this study. They enrolled to a curriculum course in a secondary teacher preparation program at a large public university. The participants were mathematics majors, but none had previously taken a course in mathematical modeling. The module included readings, analysis of the Common Core State Standards, carefully designed modeling activities, individual and group work, discussion, presentations, and reflections. The participants will be expected to include modeling as part of the school curriculum under current state standards.
Data were collected through team posters, instructor field notes from class discussions, individual written reports with reflections, and pre- and post-questionnaires.

The findings reveal that though most prospective teachers had misconceived definitions of mathematical modeling prior to the module. The participants developed the correct understanding of modeling as an iterative process involving making assumptions and validating conclusions connected to everyday situations.

Furthermore, the authors found that the participants translated the modeling cycle into practice. They also developed strong connections between modeling activities and promoting mathematical practices.
Implications and conclusion
The authors conclude that this module provided valuable experiential knowledge that became evident in the evolution of their conceptions of modeling. For instance, the participants' teams provided solutions and described their work with different degrees of precision.
The authors also argue that building teacher knowledge of the modeling process requires careful integration of mathematical modeling into teacher preparation coursework.

However, the experience offered by mathematical modeling modules of this type can have a lasting positive effect in the prospective teachers’ quality of instruction. The authors indicate that there is a need to engage future teachers and practicing teachers in mathematical modeling so that K-12 students experience mathematical modeling as part of their mathematics education. 

Updated: Feb. 22, 2018