THE EFFECTS OF A MODEL DEVELOPMENTAL MATHEMATICS PROGRAM ON ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL PRESERVICE TEACHERS
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Teacher quality is instrumental in improving student performance. Unfortunately, discrepancies between teacher preparation programs and national and state K–12 student standards have contributed to the difficult task of producing quality teachers. The contemporary mathematics education paradigm used at most colleges and universities relies on instructors transmitting mathematical content knowledge to students through didactic discourse; whereas, research suggests that preservice teachers need to be taught using the types of instruction emphasized in grades K–12 state and national standards—standards-based best practices. The developmental mathematics program at Texas State University-San Marcos (Texas State) implements these standards-based best practices via the Algorithmic Instructional Technique (AIT) and the Concrete to Representational to Abstract (CRA) models, thereby exposing preservice teachers to pedagogy in conjunction with mathematics content. To determine if the Model Developmental Mathematics Program (MDMP) course(s) contribute to preservice teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching and positive disposition, this study compared elementary and middle school preservice teachers on the MDMP track to those on the College Algebra track. These groups’ mathematical knowledge and disposition were compared based on their scores on the Early Indicators of Effective Teachers instrument—a modified Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) assessment and a lesson plan writing activity. In addition, the researcher conducted interviews with the participants to evaluate their pedagogical, content, and pedagogical content knowledge and disposition. For further investigation, case study analyses were performed on four selected MDMP track participants. Overall, the results indicated that the MDMP track participants lacked confidence, had a poor disposition towards mathematics, and had less content knowledge than the College Algebra track participants did; interestingly though, the MDMP track participants aligned their lesson plans, whether deliberately or instinctively, to the content taught in the MDMP courses. This is significant because even though MDMP track participants scored lower than the College Algebra students on the modified MKT test (p < .01), due to their low confidence levels, their experiences in the MDMP course(s) influenced their pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge. Due to the limited scope of this study, further research needs to be conducted to better understand the effects of the MDMP curriculum and content. Preservice teachers in developmental mathematics programs at different colleges and universities can be evaluated using the Early Indicators of Effective Teachers instrument and then their scores can be compared to the MDMP track participants’ scores.