The Effect of Teacher Education Programs on Future Elementary Mathematics Teachers’ Knowledge: A Five Country Analysis Using TEDS-M Data

August 2016

Source: Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 19(4), p. 371–396 (2016)

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined the associations between teacher preparation components and the knowledge of teaching candidates based on data from the TEDS-M study.

The authors used data collected for the Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M). TEDS-M measured the mathematics content knowledge (MCK) and the mathematics pedagogical content knowledge (MPCK) of future teachers in their final year in teacher preparation programs. The study focused on future elemtary mathematics teachers from five countries: Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and the USA.

The findings reveal that the number of mathematics content courses taken has an effect on teaching candidates’ level of MCK in three countries. Specifically, the authors found that taking courses in discrete structure and logic had an effect on MCK in Chinese Taipei, Spain, and Switzerland. Furthermore, they found that taking courses in continuity and functions had an effect on MCK in Chinese Taipei, Switzerland, and the USA. 

The authors provide two possible explanations for these results:
First, they suggest that what is important is not only how many mathematics content courses a given teacher preparation program offers, but also what kinds of courses it offers.
Second, there may be selection effects linked to teacher education programs in various countries. This helps to explain the consistent findings of effects of mathematics content courses on MCK in these countries.

The findings also show that teaching candidates’ exposure to topics related to instruction (such as developing lesson plans) was associated with MCK in Chinese Taipei, Singapore, and Switzerland and MPCK in Singapore, Spain, and Switzerland.
At the same time, the number of topics encountered in mathematics methods courses was only associated with MCK in Chinese Taipei and Switzerland and MPCK only in Switzerland.
The authors note that for US teaching candidates, only the number of mathematics content courses in continuity and function was associated with their MCK.

The authors conclude that the findings can inform theory as well as future research regarding ways to improve elementary mathematics teacher preparation by discerning how preparation experiences can shape teachers’ knowledge. 

Updated: Feb. 14, 2018