Pre-service teacher learning and practice for mathematical literacy.
Winter, Mark Marx Jamali
This study explores the nature of pre-service Mathematical Literacy teachers' problem solving with a focus on intra-mathematics and extra-mathematics connections, across two years (2011-2012). The pre-service teachers were enrolled into a new three-year Bachelor of Education course, Concepts and literacy in mathematics (CLM), at a large urban University in South Africa. The CLM course aimed specifically at developing the teachers' fundamental mathematical knowledge as well as contextual knowledge, which were believed to be key components in ML teaching. The fact that the course offered a new approach to professional teacher development in ML (pre-service), contrasting the old model (in-service) reported in ML-related literature in South Africa, where qualified teachers from other subjects were reskilled, coupled with the need to grow the pool of qualified ML teachers, provided a rationale for conducting this study. Data relating to the pre-service teachers' responses to assessment tasks within the course, and their school practicum periods focusing on classroom mathematical working, combined with pedagogical orientations, was collected. PISA's (OECD, 2010, 2013) dimensions of the mathematisation process provided the theoretical framework while Graven and Venkat's (2007a) pedagogic agendas were used to make sense of the pedagogic orientations in practice. The results relating to both learning and practice suggest that the teachers' knowledge relating to model formulation, an aspect of extramathematics connections, was weak across the two years. Nevertheless, improvements in ways in which the dimensions ofthe mathematisation process occurred were noted across the two years, with localised errors. In terms of pedagogic agendas foregrounded by the teachers in ML classrooms, results indicate that agenda 2 (content and context driven) and agenda 3 (mainly content driven) featured more than agenda 1 (context driven) which supports the rhetoric in the ML curriculum. Two implications to teacher training have been noted; first the need for a focus on correctly translating quantities from problem situations into mathematical models, and secondly, the need for promotion of provision of solution procedures with pedagogic links. This study offers two key contributions namely; extending knowledge relating to pre-service ML teacher training, and extending theory for understanding steps in problem solving to incorporate aspects of pedagogy.