Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research
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Strengthening mathematical thinking and reasoning proficiency in primary teacher education: Leveraging the potential of a system innovation

Project directors: Beverley Cooper and Bronwen Cowie
Researcher team: Mira Peter, Judy Bailey, Merilyn Taylor and Philippa Hunter

Project Dates: 2014 - 2017

This Teaching and Learning Research Initiative funded project investigates the development of the Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning Proficiency (MTRP) of student-teachers enrolled in primary initial teacher education programmes. It follows a sub-group of these student-teachers into the classroom as beginning teachers. The focus is on how student-teachers utilise and benefit from activities embedded across their courses and resources specifically designed to support their independent self-regulated learning. The project will contribute to understandings of the systems required to assist student-teachers in the development of the MTRP needed for the various aspects of their professional role: mathematics teaching, student data analysis and administration.

Project Update

Markite pieThe map of some of the mathematical thinking that is embedded in papers provides valuable information for the mathematics mentors and students on where in programmes, students may come across aspects of mathematical thinking.

What is new?

  • Administering the student survey of mathematical thinking, attitudes and beliefs so that we can assess any change that occurs over the year
    The Grad Dip T (Primary) students and the BTchg (Primary) Year One students were surveyed at the beginning of the year for aspects of mathematical thinking, confidence, attitudes and beliefs. Working with our mathematics staff team members, we had refined the survey from the feedback received last year. The survey is being further refined based on this year's findings, again with mathematics staff particularly to include a data literacy component.
  • Giving feedback to students on their survey results and identifying self- regulated learning opportunities
    The mathematics mentors have met with 32 of the 57 Grad Dip T (Primary) students individually or in small groups to share their individual survey results and to identify with them what support they would like and where they can access self- regulated learning opportunities.
  • Increasing awareness of mathematical thinking across all of a teacher's role  The mathematics mentors and other members of the research team have met with the Grad Dip T (Primary) students on two occasions this year to talk about the research project. Most recently (4 June), students came together to share examples of mathematical thinking they identified in their papers.
  • Developing the Semester B map of where mathematical thinking is embedded in the 2015 Grad Dip T (Primary) programme. We have considered Semester B paper outlines and drawn on examples shared by the team on the curriculum mapping form we asked the team to complete. We are concentrating on making the map 'user-friendly' for students.
  • We have continued to develop the Mathematical Thinking Learning Hub at www.mathink.ac.nz working with the mathematics team. Unfortunately the website is currently under construction. We look forward to it being up and running again before too long and continuing its development.
  • We have undertaken data collection for the project as follows
    1. Assessment A data literacy question has been added to the beginning of programme assessment and trialled with the MTchgLn and Grad DipT primary cohorts.  Data entry for the trial of the updated data literacy question is now complete. Time for analysis is planned in the next 3 weeks. The revised assessment will be trialled January/February 2016
    2. Student Interviews/Mentoring A discussion was held with primary graduate students after the completion of their second practicum.  Unlike in 2014, in the discussion about maths across the curriculum students gave a wealth of rich examples, and were quite articulate about the mathematics they had experienced on practicum. This may have been related to the pre practicum discussion that had keyed them into aspects to look for.   Main examples and discussion related to administration focused around the management of trips, camps and events. There were fewer examples offered related to data and statistical literacy mainly because the students were not given the opportunity to work in this area.Based on the post practicum discussion a data literacy workshop is being organised for early October for Grad Dip T students.
    3. Beginning teacher interviews We have interviewed two beginning teachers who agreed to talk about their experiences of mathematical thinking across all their roles as teachers. These beginning teachers gave examples of use of mathematical thinking across all their roles as teachers. They continued to look for and value support and help in their use of mathematical thinking.
    4. Mapping The curriculum map for Semester B of the Grad Dip T programme has been completed and was given to students at the beginning of the Semester B and is available to coordinators of papers in this programme.  The curriculum map for Semester B of the BTchg programme is almost complete with the exception of information from two (of seven) paper outlines and specific examples from two other papers to be provided via the co-ordinator-completed mapping form. The curriculum map for Semester B of the MTchgLg programme is underway. Semester A and Semester B maps for the MTchgLg programme will then be combined into one year-long map which will also include the paper undertaken during Summer School.
    5. Schools School assessment managers have been invited to a focus group to discuss data/statistical literacy needs of schools
    6. Hub There has been progress made on the restored Hub. Additional material has been added and format simplified. This should be ready to give access to completing students in October.
Project Highlights
  • JF picThe research team and paper coordinators have had interesting and valuable conversations identifying mathematical thinking embedded in papers across the programmes.
  • The map of some of the mathematical thinking that is embedded in papers provides valuable information for the mathematics mentors and students on where in programmes students may come across aspects of mathematical thinking.
  • The mathematics mentors are identifying aspects of mathematical thinking for teachers' roles where support is needed and locating resources for self-regulated learning.
  • There seems to be little difference in student teachers confidence and attitudes across programmes.

What is next? 

  • Statistical literacy workshops for graduates
  • End of year focus group primary graduates
  • Focus group school assessment mangers
  • Continue Hub development
  • Engage paper coordinators in final confirmation of curriculum maps in readiness for 2016.
  • Gain permission from those who will be beginning teachers in 2016 to be contacted by the research team in 2016 and invited to participate in the research by sharing with us their experiences of mathematical thinking across their roles as teachers.
  • Map the organisational system in which initial teacher education is embedded and analyse data to date from a systems perspective, identifying aspects of the system which support the development of students' mathematical thinking, systemic barriers to this development and aspects of the system that could be changed to provide more support.

Project outputs

Three Papers have been accepted to NZARE conference December:

 i) Scoping the meaning of critical in mathematical thinking for Initial Teacher Education

ii) Mapping mathematical thinking in Initial Teacher Education: Curriculum maps as boundary objects?

iii) Student-teacher perceptions of the role of mathematical and statistical thinking in teachers' work.

AERA 2016

A paper has been submitted for the AERA conference April 2016Student-teacher perceptions of the role of mathematical and statistical thinking in teachers' work

Intentions poster (PDF 6.4 MB)

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