The significance of mathematical knowledge in teaching elementary methods courses

Rina Zazkis and Dov Zazkis have written an article that was recently published online in Educational Studies in Mathematics. The article is entitled The significance of mathematical knowledge in teaching elementary methods courses: perspectives of mathematics teacher educators. Their article has an interesting and unusual prologue, which explains some of the issues discussed in the article:

Consider two candidates, Maria and Elena, who applied for the same position—instructor for a “Methods of Teaching Elementary Mathematics” course. Maria holds a Master’s Degree in Mathematics; she taught Mathematics for 5 years in secondary school and then for 3 years in college. She is a Ph.D. student in Mathematics Education. Elena, in contrast, holds Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Education, and she has 15 years of teaching experience in elementary school at various grade levels. She is a Ph.D. student in Curriculum and Instruction. Which one should be hired?

In their article, they provide an overview of relevant research related to the practice of mathematics teacher educators, and they also go into a discussion of mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT). They do not, however, discuss the extension of MKT into MKTT (Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Teachers), which Deborah Zopf has discussed in her recent dissertation.

Here is the abstract of their article:

Our study investigates perspectives of mathematics teacher educators related to the usage of their mathematical knowledge in teaching “Methods of Teaching Elementary Mathematics” courses. Five mathematics teacher educators, all with experience in teaching methods courses for prospective elementary school teachers, participated in this study. In a clinical interview setting, the participants described where and how, in their teaching of elementary methods courses, they had an opportunity to use their advanced mathematical knowledge and provided examples of such opportunities or situations. We outline five apparently different viewpoints and then turn to the similar concerns that were expressed by the participants. In conclusion, we connect the individual perspectives by situating them in the context of unifying themes, both theoretical and practical.

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