How Deeply and how Well? How Ready to Teach Mathematics after a One-Year Program?

From Section:
Programs & Practicum
Feb. 01, 2010

Source: Mathematics Teacher Education and Development, Vol. 12, No. 1, 65–84. 2010 

(Reviewed by the Portal Team) 

The purpose of this article is twofold.
First, to examine the pre-service teachers’ knowledge of mathematical content, and the effectiveness of a pre-service mathematics curriculum subject in improving that knowledge.
Second, to compare this knowledge with that of the students whom they would be teaching.

The author addressed to two research questions:
Do entering pre-service teachers have adequate mathematical knowledge about the concepts they will be expected to teach?
After 39 contact hours in a mathematics curriculum unit do pre-service teachers achieve an adequate understanding of the content of mathematics that they might be expected to teach?

The participants in this study were 131 of Graduate Diploma of Primary Education students in Australia.

The pre- and post-test data were analysed for selected strands of mathematical knowledge.
The results were compared to those of the Year 9 Queensland school population.


Testing during the first week of semester indicated that upon entry to the Graduate Diploma of Education Primary program the pre-service teachers in this sample had a grasp of content knowledge that was statistically similar to that of Queensland Year 9 students on the 2008 National Assessment Program–Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test.

Furthermore, by the end of their nine weeks and 39 hours of contact, the pre-service teachers had demonstrated significantly greater content knowledge than the average Year 9 student and significantly more than they had at the beginning of their curriculum study.

However pre-service teachers’ content knowledge at the end of the 39 hours of mathematics curriculum was variable.
While 16% of the students gained fewer than half marks on the final tests, only about 39% scored over 24 correct responses out of 32.


This study suggests that many pre-service teachers entered this teacher education program with very poor levels of mathematical content knowledge and that many struggled to remediate this deficiency in the condensed learning time.

Updated: Nov. 12, 2020
Comparative analysis | Elementary mathematics | Mathematics education | Pedagogical content knowledge | Preservice teacher education | Teacher education programs | Teaching skills