Source: Educational Researcher, Volume 46, No. 4, p. 194-203. 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study examines eight teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching of primary mathematics.
The participants were eight mathematics teacher educators (one female and seven male) with college teaching experiences ranging from 8 to 20 years from Ghana.
Four Teacher Preparation in Africa (TPA) researchers working in pairs observed each teacher educator teach two mathematics methods or demonstration classes.
Afterwards, the researchers compared and discussed the data before reaching consensus on the key features of each lesson, including critical incidences supported with concrete examples.
Then, the author conducted interviews with teacher educators to explore their perceptions of good primary mathematics teaching and how their methods classes tried to emulate their vision of effective teaching and learning of primary mathematics.
Finally, the author conducted focus group interviews with 34 preservice teachers who had completed their practicum and taught by the eight teacher educators from the four colleges.
Conclusion and Implications
The findings reveal that teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching continue to influence preservice teachers’ practice despite the incorporation of practicum. The author argues that this points to the importance of understanding teacher educators’ role in improving pre-service teachers’ instruction.
The results also show that teacher educators’ approaches to teaching primary mathematics retain its didactic nature even when the aim is to teach learner-centered methods. The author argues that their vision of good teaching is based on their university methods course, college textbooks, and the experience of senior colleagues.
The participants generally perceived that they are introducing innovative teaching methods that incorporate teaching and learning materials (TLMs) and small group discussions to change the traditional teaching methods such as rote learning, chorus responses, and copying and imitation.
The author claims that the participants' belief that innovative teaching should be teacher-centered, in which the instructor demonstrates before students practice with TLMs through small group activities to discover that they all reach the same conclusion, means they do not realize the importance of understanding real classroom contexts.
Furthermore, the author also identified the hierarchical relationship between teacher educators and school teachers as a major challenge for effective practicum, limiting the opportunity to transform teacher educators’ vision and practice of primary mathematics teaching.
The author concludes that it is clear that teacher educators’ practice and vision of good teaching play a critical role in shaping learning opportunities of pre-service teachers and teacher education reform will not succeed without reforming the way teacher educators learn to teach pre-service teachers.