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International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education IJM Vol.8, No.2-3
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ISSN 1306-3030 www.iejme.com

International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education IJM Vol.8, No.2-3






ARTICLES
Teachers eliefs aout mathematical !no"led#e for teachin#
definitions
$eidar Mos%old & Janne Fauskanger
'3
The de%elo(ment of students al#eraic (roficienc)
Irene %an *ti(hout, +aul ,ri-%ers & .oeno /ra%emei-er
02
Varied "a)s to teach the definite inte#ral conce(t
Iiris 1ttor(s, .-ell 2-3r!, Mir!o $adic & Timo Tossa%ainen
84
The influence of elementar) (reser%ice teachers mathematical
e5(eriences on their attitudes to"ards teachin# and learnin#
mathematics
6ind) Jon# & Thomas E. 7od#es
488


International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education IJM Vol.8, No.2-3
Teachers Beliefs about Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Definitions
Reidar Mosvold
University of Stavanger
Janne Fauskanger
University of Stavanger
Previous research indicates the importance of teachers knowledge of mathematical definitionsas
well as their beliefs. Much remains unknown, however, about the specific knowledge required doing
the mathematical task of teaching involving definitions and the related teacher beliefs. In this article,
we analyze focus-group interviews that were conducted in a Norwegian context to examine the
adaptability of the U.S. developed measures of mathematical knowledge for teaching. Qualitative
content analysis was applied in order to learn more about the teachers beliefs about mathematical
knowledge for teaching definitions. The results indicate that teachers believe knowledge of
mathematical definitions is an important aspect of mathematical knowledge for teaching, but they do
not regard it as important to actually know the mathematical definitions themselves.
Keywords: mathematical knowledge for teaching, teacher beliefs, mathematical definitions
In his presidential address at the 1985 Annual Meeting of the American Educational
Research Association, Lee Shulman presented his theories concerning the different aspects of
teachers professional knowledge (Shulman, 1986). A number of attempts have been made by
researchers afterwards to build upon these ideas (e.g., Graeber & Tirosh, 2008). In
mathematics education, the efforts of Deborah Ball and her colleagues at the University of
Michigan (see e.g., Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008) are among the most promising (Morris,
Hiebert, & Spitzer, 2009). They have formulated a practice-based theory of what is often
referred to as mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT), and they have also created
measures of teachers MKT (e.g., Hill, Schilling, & Ball, 2004). The MKT measuresas
well as the MKT frameworkhave been developed from studies of mathematics teaching in
the U.S.
In the last couple of years, researchers have made attempts to translate, adapt and use
MKT items in other countries (for a review, see Blmeke & Delaney, 2012). Among the first
attempts was that of Delaney (2008), who adapted and used a set of MKT items for use in
Ireland. Researchers who have translated and used MKT items in other countries after this
normally build upon his results and suggestions (e.g., Mosvold, Fauskanger, Jakobsen, &
Melhus, 2009). Several researchers havein their attempts to analyze the challenges of
adapting MKT items for other countriespointed at possible cultural differences in the tasks
of teaching. Since MKT is conceptualized in practice, Cole (2012) argued, the question of
whether or not the tasks of teaching are independent of environment and cultural context is a
logical one to ask. In their study of Norwegian teachers perceived difficulties with the
adapted MKT items, Fauskanger and Mosvold (2010) also indicated that there might be
cultural issues involved.
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 44
One particular task of teaching that has received attention in previous research is that of
choosing and developing useable definitions (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008, p. 400). In his
study of Indonesian teachers mathematical knowledge for teaching geometry, Ng (2012)
found that the MKT measures discriminated between teachers who adopted inclusive and
those who adopted exclusive definitions rather than between knowledgeable and less
knowledgeable teachers. He argued that there might be some cultural differences between the
use of inclusive geometric definitions between Indonesian teachers and U.S. teachers; he also
argued that using the measures were useful for providing a better understanding of what
teachers need to know in order to do the work of teaching in Indonesia (ibid.).
Mathematics teachers all over the world face demands related to choosing and developing
definitions that are appropriate for use among their students, and Zazkis and Leikin (2008)
suggest that teachers knowledge of mathematical definitions and their concept images affect
their instructional decisions, the explanations they provide in the classroom, the way they
guide their students, and how they conduct mathematical discussions. To plan future
professional development it is asserted that teachers beliefs about teaching knowledge may
influence their interpretation of their experiences (e.g., Ravindran, Greene, & Debacker,
2005). Given these results from previous research, we found it relevant to make an effort to
learn more about teachers beliefs about the mathematical knowledge needed for teaching
definitions in a different cultural context. With this as a background, we approach the
following research question: What do teachers reflections on MKT items reveal about their
beliefs concerning mathematical knowledge for teaching definitions?
In order to answer this question, we analyze the reflections given by Norwegian teachers
in focus-group interviews where MKT items were used to focus the discussions. Before we
approach this, however, we first need to make some clarifications about beliefs related to
teaching knowledge and how they relate to other types of beliefs. Then we need to discuss
how these beliefs relate to knowledge in general and MKT in particular. We also need to
elaborate on our focus on that particular task of teaching concerning definitions in relation to
the more general research on teachers knowledge of mathematical definitions. These issues
are addressed in the next section.
Theoretical Influences
Philosophers have pondered about beliefs and knowledgeand the connection between
the twofor centuries. The result of the philosophers reflections on these issues is manifest
in the branch of philosophy called epistemologywhich has a particular focus on discussions
concerning knowledge and beliefs. Within the field of educational research in general and
mathematics education in particular, there has been a vast amount of research related to
beliefs. In his overview of research in this area, Philipp (2007) presented some of the terms
that have been used when these issues have been investigated in mathematics education
research: affect (including emotions, attitudes and beliefs), beliefs systems, conceptions,
identity, knowledge and values. All of these conceptsincluding that of beliefshave been
used with various meanings by different researchers.
45 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger

Beliefs About...
Before approaching the concept of beliefs about teaching knowledgewhich is our focus
in this articlewe need to make some clarifications concerning the more general concept of
beliefs. Mathematics teachers beliefs have often been grouped into beliefs about the nature
of mathematics, about mathematics teaching and about mathematics learningas presented
in Table 1.
Table 1
Categories of teachers' beliefs (adapted from Beswick, 2012, p. 130)
Beliefs about the nature of
mathematics
Beliefs about mathematics
teaching
Beliefs about mathematics
learning
Instrumentalist Content focused with an emphasis
on performance
Skill mastery, passive
reception of knowledge
Platonist Content focused with an emphasis
on understanding
Active construction of
understanding
Problem solving Learner focused Autonomous exploration of
own interest
The three categories of Ernest (1989)as presented in the left column of Table 1have
been widely used as a description of beliefs about the nature of mathematics. In the
instrumentalist view, mathematics is seen as an accumulation of facts, skills and rules to be
used in the pursuance of some external end (Ernest, 1989, p. 250). The Platonist view sees
mathematics as a body of pre-existing knowledge. Finally, in the problem solving view,
mathematics is regarded as a dynamic human invention.
Almost three decades ago, Thompson (1984) claimed that the connection between
teachers beliefs about mathematics and their teaching practice had been largely ignored. She
called for research with a focus on this connection between beliefs and practice, and a
number of studies with such a focus subsequently emerged (e.g., Cooney, 1985; Raymond,
1997; Skott, 2001); several of these studies had a focus on inconsistencies between beliefs
and practice. Following Thompsons initiative, there has been an increased interest in beliefs
about the nature of mathematics; there has also been a continually increasing focus on beliefs
about mathematics teaching and learning. Van Zoest, Jones and Thornton (1994)
distinguished between three important aspects in research on beliefs about mathematics
teaching (see the middle column of Table 1), whereas others (e.g., Ernest, 1989)
distinguished between beliefs concerning three aspects of mathematics learning (see the right
column of Table 1).
Beliefs and Knowledge
The relationship between knowledge and beliefs makes up a long-standing discussion
(Pehkonen, 2008), and a main difficulty has been to distinguish beliefs from knowledge
(Thompson, 1992). There appear to be differences as well as similarities between students
knowledge and beliefs (Op Eynde, De Corte, & Verschaffel, 2002); research on teachers
knowledge and beliefs indicates that this is also the case here (Forgasz & Leder, 2008). In her
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 46
attempt to sort out the connection between teacher knowledge and teacher beliefs, Thompson
(1992) pointed out that the difficulties involved in changing teacher performance are
intimately connected with what teachers believe and know. Her approach has had significant
impact on the direction of research in this area. Furinghetti and Pehkonen (2002) emphasized
the close connections between knowledge and beliefs, and they argued that beliefs should be
considered as part of teachers personal knowledge. In another attempt to clarify between the
concepts, Kuntze (2011) used the term professional knowledgein which beliefs were
included. Many researchers distinguish between these two concepts, but some argue that
beliefs and knowledge are strongly related. Beswick (2011, 2012) argued for the equivalence
of beliefs and knowledge; she also suggested that beliefs about mathematical content and
pedagogy should be included in the MKT framework. Philipp (2007), on the other hand,
maintained that beliefs are closely related to knowledge, but a distinction should be made
between the terms. In this article, we follow Philipps suggestion and distinguish between
knowledge and beliefs. We focus on the beliefs teachers have about knowledge needed for
teaching, and we consider this to be an aspect of teachers personal epistemology.
Beliefs about Teaching Knowledge
Teachers personal epistemology includes beliefs about knowledgecommonly referred
to as epistemological beliefs (Hofer, 2002)and these epistemological beliefs are considered
important; Schommer-Aikins and colleagues (2010) proposed that teachers epistemological
beliefs have a potential impact on students learning in all academic levels. Even though the
origin of studies concerning students epistemological beliefs can be traced four decades
backPerrys (1970) seminal work has often been referred tothe actual term
epistemological beliefs was first used by Schommer (1994). She used the term in reference
to beliefs about the nature of knowledge and learning (Schommer, 1994, p. 293). In
research regarding epistemological beliefs, there is, however, little agreement concerning the
actual construct. Some argue that epistemological beliefs are domain specific, and some
argue that they are not (e.g., Buehl, Alexander, & Murphy, 2002). There is also disagreement
about how the construct is connected with other related constructs (ibid.). Although several
competing models of the nature of epistemological beliefs have been proposed, general
epistemological beliefs seem to refer to individuals belief about the nature of knowledge
and the processes of knowing (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997, p. 112); sometimes it is also used
with reference to learning and teaching (Opt Eynde et al., 2006). In their attempt to clarify
the research in this area, Hofer and Pintrich (1997) proposed that epistemological theories are
composed of certainty of knowledge, simplicity of knowledge, source of knowledge, and
justification for knowing (ibid., p. 133). Work on disciplinary beliefs indicates that
epistemological beliefs might vary from one discipline to another (e.g., Hofer & Pintrich,
1997).
Despite the importance and amount of research related to teachers beliefs, relatively few
studies focus on teachers beliefs about teaching knowledge in general (Buehl & Fives, 2009;
Fives & Buehl, 2008); even fewer studies focus on teachers beliefs about the content of their
mathematical knowledge for teaching in particular. Consequently, the body of knowledge to
be considered isdue to the complexity and multidimensionality of teachers knowledge (see
47 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger

next section)of importance in studies of teachers beliefs about teaching knowledge (Buehl
& Fives, 2009). Prior research emphasized the importance of studying teachers beliefs about
teaching knowledge, because these beliefs may influence how and what they learn from
participating in professional development (e.g., Ravindran, Greene, & DeBacker, 2005);
beliefs about teaching knowledge may also influence teaching practices (e.g., Sinatra &
Kardash, 2004). Fives and Buehl (2010) proposed that teachers beliefs about what they need
to know constitute a distinct domain. Bendixen and Feucht (2010) supported this, and they
maintained that this provides additional depth to our understanding of teachers personal
epistemology (p. 567).
Distinct beliefs about different aspects of teaching knowledge exists, such as the source of
teaching knowledge, the stability of teaching knowledge and the structure of teaching
knowledge (Buehl & Fives, 2009). In the present article we focus on practicing teachers
beliefs about a fourth aspect: the content of teaching knowledge (as in Fives & Buehl,
2008)in particular teachers beliefs about the knowledge needed to teach mathematical
definitions.
Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching
Several frameworks for teachers knowledge have been developed (e.g., Ball, Thames, &
Phelps, 2008; Blmeke, Hsieh, Kaiser, & Schmidt, 2014; Rowland, Huckstep, & Thwaites,
2009). For the purpose of this article, we focus on the MKT framework only. This has been
regarded as one of the most promising frameworks of teacher knowledge (Morris, Hiebert, &
Spitzer, 2009), and the items we used to focus the group discussions were developed within
this framework.
It is evident that teachers need to have some knowledge of the content they are supposed
to teach. It is also generally agreed upon that teachers knowledge need to go somewhat
beyond the content they teach; their knowledge must be deeper than a plain knowledge of the
content of the curriculum. The burning question is, however, what characterizes the content
knowledge needed for teaching a subject like mathematics. Building upon Shulmans (1986)
ideas concerning the existence of a domain of content knowledge that is unique to the
teaching profession, Ball, Thames and Phelps (2008) made an effort to contribute to the
further development of our understanding of this particular kind of knowledge. Shulman and
his colleagues developed typologies to describe the various aspects of teachers professional
knowledge, and they focused in particular on what they referred to as pedagogical content
knowledge. This domain of knowledge connects the knowledge of content with teaching
practice, and thisBall and colleagues (2008) argueis why it is so popular.
At the University of Michigan, they started investigating the work of teaching
mathematics in the Mathematics Teaching and Learning to Teach project (MTLT). In this
project, they started with practice in order to learn more about the knowledge needed by
teachers in order to teach mathematics. The results provided a foundation for what they refer
to as a practice-based theory of mathematical knowledge for teaching (Ball et al., 2008, p.
395). In these classroom studies, the researchers focused on the work of teaching
mathematics rather than on teachers. They also focused on the mathematical demands of
teaching, and these tasks of teaching are regarded as specific to the work of teaching
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 48
mathematics; the mathematical tasks of teaching are also strongly connected with the MKT
items. Hill and colleagues (2004) elaborated on this when they explained how item writing
served different purposes for the researchers in Michigan. Item writing served the purpose of
exploring the nature and composition of subject-matter knowledge of mathematics for
teaching and MKT in particular. The item writing process was used to develop the tasks of
teaching. On a more practical level, they hoped that the creation of these measures would
lead to increased understanding ofand renewed interest inthe content knowledge of
teachers (ibid.).
Building upon the results from the MTLT project, the researchers at the University of
Michigan started developing survey measures of the content knowledge needed for teaching
mathematics as part of the Learning Mathematics for Teaching project (LMT). In Figure 1 an
example from the public released LMT items that focuses on definitions is presented. Among
the items that were discussed by the teachers in our study, one of the items had a focus on
whether or not 1 is defined as a prime number. The item in Figure 1 is not the exact same, but
we let it serve as an illustration since it also has a focus on the definition of prime numbers.

Figure 1. Item 2 from the released LMT items (Ball & Hill, 2008, p. 4).
Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching Definitions
Knowledge of mathematical definitions is part of MKT, and it is represented in a task of
teaching that Ball and colleagues (2008) formulated as choosing and developing usable
definitions. When reviewing an item like the one above, it becomes apparent that knowledge
of definitions might relate to all areas of the MKT framework. Mathematical definitions are
relevant for research in mathematics education in general, and the study of mathematical
definitions is strongly connected with that of mathematical proofs (Knapp, 2006; Leikin &
Zazkis, 2010). In the TIMSS 1999 Video Studyan international comparison study of
mathematics teaching in seven countriesthe results indicated cultural differences in the way
teachers focused on mathematical definitions (Hiebert et al., 2003). Hiebert and colleagues
(ibid.) found, among other things, that teachers from Hong Kong SAR had a stronger focus
on presenting definitions than teachers from other countries.
Definitions have developed throughout the history of mathematics, and it was on the basis
of the genetic approachwhere a main idea is that learners should follow the path in which
49 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger

discoveries were originally madethat De Villiers (1998) suggested that students should be
engaged in defining concepts rather than learning about definitions. Zazkis and Leikin (2008)
followed up on this when they argued that definitions of mathematical concepts as well as the
processes of defining are fundamental aspects of teachers subject matter knowledge. They
continued to argue that teachers knowledge of mathematical definitions and their concept
images affect their instructional decisions, the explanations they provide in the classroom, the
way they guide their students, and how they conduct mathematical discussions (e.g., Zazkis
& Leikin, 2008). Leikin and Zazkis (2010) found that prospective mathematics teachers
knowledge of definitions is situated in the content domain of mathematics. They claimed that
it reflects the nature of school mathematics textbooks and of the school curriculum and they
found a gap between the mathematics learned in university courses and school mathematics.
It is therefore not surprising that Ball, Thames and Phelps (2008), in their presentation of
mathematical tasks of teaching, listed choosing and developing useable definitions (p. 400)
as one of the challenges that are distinctive to the work of teaching mathematics. This goes
beyond the ability to recite the actual definitions and into the area of understanding variations
of definitionswhether congruent or non-congruent (Usiskin & Griffin, 2008)and
understanding mathematically accurate yet useful definitions and its trajectory.
Methods
In our efforts to learn more about teachers beliefs about the content of their teaching
knowledge, we arranged focus-group interviews. Focus groups have the potential to initiate
concentrated conversations that might never occur in the real world (Morgan, 1998, p.
31). Such focused discussions could give realistic accounts of what teachers think about the
adapted MKT items because they are forced to think about and possibly revise their views
(Bryman, 2004, p. 348). The initial aim with these interviews was to investigate whether or
not our adaptation of the MKT measures was successful by bringing in the voices of the test-
takers (Fauskanger, Jakobsen, Mosvold, & Bjuland, 2012). In our previous analyses of these
interviews (e.g., Fauskanger, 2012; Fauskanger & Mosvold, 2010), we learned that the
practicing teachers also discussed different aspects of the knowledge they found relevant and
irrelevant for their work as teachersincluding aspects related to mathematical definitions
(Fauskanger, 2012). For the purpose of this articleand in order to learn more about the
Norwegian teachers beliefs concerning MKT definitionswe decided to make a new
analysis of the transcripts focusing on what was actually discussed related to definitions.
Participants
Fifteen teachers participated in seven semi-structured focus-group interviews, and these
teachers were selected from a convenience sample of schools and teachers. All the
participants had a special interest in mathematics and mathematics teacher education. The
first two interviews were held at the university, whereas the other five were held at the
teachers respective schools. The first group consisted of two experienced teachers, whereas
the second group consisted of three inexperienced teachers. The participants in these two
groups were selected on the basis of their level of experience and special interest in
mathematics education, and were all from different schools. In the next five interviews, pairs
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 50
of teachers from five schools were selected for participation in collaboration between the
school principals and the researchers; these five schools were selected out of the total sample
of 17 schools that participated in our pilot study.
In the first focus-group interview (FGI1), Eric and Eve participated. Both were
experienced mathematics teachers. In the second interview (FGI2), three inexperienced
teachers participated: Ingrid, Ingeborg and Ingfrid. In the third focus-group interview, the two
teachers from Beta School were both responsible for mathematics teaching in their school.
Betty was teaching mathematics in Grade 6 at the moment, whereas Benjamin had an
administrative position and was not teaching that year. Both teachers in the fourth
interviewat Zeta Highhad finished their teacher education not long ago. The teachers
from Zeta High were given the following nicknames in our data: Zachariah and Zelda. In
Kappa Highwhich was where the fifth interview was heldKaren and Ken participated in
the interviews. Matthew was one of the participating teachers from Mu School in the sixth
interview, and he had lots of experience as a teacher. His colleague, Mary, was less
experienced. In the seventh and final focus-group interviewwhich was held at Nu High
Nigel and Nora participated in the interview. Nigel had 15 years of experience as a teacher,
whereas Nora had been working as a teacher for four years. Both had taught mathematics
every year of their teaching careers.
Instrument and Procedure
Before the interviews, we used a form (Elementary form A, MSP_A04) of items from the
LMT project to measure the teachers MKT. These items had been translated and adapted for
use among Norwegian teachers (Fauskanger et al., 2012; Mosvold et al., 2009). The form
consisted of 30 item stems and 61 items and contained the following three sets of MKT
items: number concepts and operations (27 items), geometry (19 items), and patterns,
functions and algebra (15 items).
When they had finished the test, the teachers were given a short break. After this break,
the selected teachers were interviewed in focus groups of two or three teachers. The
interviews were designed to study our adaptation of the MKT measures, and questions were
asked about the following: a) teachers background, b) general considerations of the MKT
measures, c) particular considerations in relation to the MC format, d) comments on the
mathematical topic, structure and difficulty item by item, and e) comments and reflections
that supplement the other issues discussed in the interviews (Fauskanger et al., 2012).
Data Analysis
The focus-group interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim; these transcriptions
were analyzed using a combination of two different approaches to qualitative content
analysis. As part of the data reductionand in order to learn more about what the teachers
said about definitionsa summative qualitative content analysis was first applied to the data
(Hsieh & Shannon, 2005). We began by identifying all that was discussed related to MKT
items focusing on definitions, and all that was said related to definitions when discussing
other items as well. Both authors of this article carried out independent analysis of the data to
ensure reliability. One carried out content analysis with the aid of the computer software
51 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger

NVivo10 (QSR International), whereas the other carried out his analysis using open source
tools for text analysis. Both authors searched the transcripts for occurrences of the word
definition and derived terms. In this part of the analysis, we defined the utterance as a
coding unit; the context unit was defined as two utterances before and after the utterance in
which the key word appeared (Krippendorf, 2004). When reading the transcripts, we
discovered that words like concept and formula were used more or less as synonyms of
definition. We therefore searched the transcripts for these terms as well. In our separate
analyses, we ended up with an almost perfect overlap of excerpts from the transcripts. These
excerpts (the context units) have been subject to further qualitative content analysis and
discussion below. In this second part of the data analysis, we used a more conventional
content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005), and categories were developed inductively. In the
results section some of the transcripts have been slightly adapted to avoid gap fillers and
repetitions.
Results
When analyzing our interview data to investigate what teachers reflections on MKT
items reveal concerning their beliefs about MKT definitions, we ended up with two partially
overlapping categories. Some teachers seemed to believe that knowledge of definitions is an
important part of their MKT. Other teachers seemed more reluctant, andalthough they
might believe that knowledge of definitions is importantthey argued that teachers do not
actually need to remember the mathematical definitions or formulas in order to be good
teachers. Below is a presentation and discussion of the results from our analysis.
Knowledge of Definitions is an Important Part of Teachers MKT?
The teachers discussed definitions, concepts as well as formulas, and algorithms in all the
interviews. There were negative statements concerning definitions in all the interviews, and
there were positive statements about definitions in all but one interview. Further analysis of
these statements revealed different aspects of teachers beliefs concerning MKT definitions.
1) Definitions are important. In most of the interviews, teachers made statements
indicating a belief that knowledge of definitions is an important aspect of teachers
knowledge. In the discussions between the interviewer and the two teachers from Beta
Schoolthey discussed a testlet item focusing on non-existing geometrical figures (testlet 17
in our form)we can see how one of the teachers emphasizes knowledge of definitions:
153. Interviewer: You suggest, in a way, more of the kind of tasks that focus on definitions,
and less of the kind of tasks that focus on calculations, then?
154. Betty: Yes, I think that is correct.
155. Benjamin. Definitions are incredibly important as a prerequisite, because if you dont
have clear definitions and know a little about it, then you will easily be out of track.
156. Betty: And, what was said after the TIMSS study, what I have heard anyway, is that we
score low on concepts. So, I believe it is more important to be clear about this than to be able
to calculate correctly. [FGI3, Beta School, March 2, 2009]
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 52
Just prior to this, the teachers have been discussing the previous couple of items. In
relation to an item focusing on special cases in geometry (testlet 15), the teachers have just
argued that knowledge of definitions and concepts are important. When discussing item 17 in
the dialogue above, Benjamin argues that a teacher will be out of track if he does not have
clear definitions (155). These teachers beliefs seem to include knowledge related to defining
concepts as a prerequisite for teaching on the track.
Benjamin herearguing that knowledge of definitions is importantappears to be in line
with research on mathematical definitions (e.g., Zazkis & Leikin, 2008). He contends that
knowledge of definitions is an important prerequisite for teachers, and this is also in
concurrence with the way Ball and colleagues (2008) present the task of teaching related to
definitions. The actual task of teaching is formulated as choosing and developing useable
definitions. In order for a teacher to be able to do this, knowing the actual definitions is
necessary.
2) Remembering definitions is not important. Although teachers in all the interviews
appeared to believe that knowledge of definitions is important for mathematics teachers, not
everyone seemed to agree with Benjamins views. Several teachers maintained that
remembering the actual definition is less important for them, and some of the teachers said
explicitly that knowing the formula or definition is not an important aspect of teachers
knowledge.
When discussing a testlet focusing on student-made definitions and how they would meet
the students suggestions, the teachers from Zeta High said:
193. Zachariah: Yes, there you have definitions again (). How do you define polygons and
parallelograms versus rectangles [inclusive definitions] () What is the established
[definition]?
194. Interviewer: Mmm.
195. Zachariah: The point is, I do not have [know the definition] ().
196. Interviewer: So you are uncertain about the definition () Like, what is the formal
definition?
197. Zachariah: Some [definitions] are OK (), like equilateral right-angled triangle
198. Zelda: When I, yes If I study these students proposals [presented in the MKT items
discussed] to plan my teaching the next day, I would have looked it [the definitions] up in a
book () I do not go round remembering this. Maybe when I have taught for 20 years I will
have looked it up enough times to remember it, but right now I do not have room for this
information. [FGI4, Zeta High, March 5, 2009]
The teachers at Zeta High seem to believe that remembering definitions is not an
important part of their MKT (198), and Zeldas apparent base for this argument is that she
can always look up the definitions in books when preparing her lessons (198). On the other
hand, Zachariah seems to believe that it is beneficial to remember some definitionslike that
of the equilateral right-angled triangle (197). A possible explanation might be that
Zachariahs belief that it is not important to remember the definitions is related to his lack of
knowledge on thisand the belief might then be interpreted as a kind of defense mechanism.
Another possible explanation is that he says: some are OK because they are easy to
remember or because they are relevant for his students.
53 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger

This brings us into a discussion concerning the nature and properties of knowledge (e.g.,
Hofer & Pintrich, 1997), and it initiates a discussion of whether or not it is possible to know a
definition without actually remembering it (Zazkis & Leikin, 2008). Some of the other
teachers in our study had a clear opinion about this.
To be able to engage students in defining concepts rather than learning about
definitionsas emphasized by De Villiers (1998)teachers need to know definitions of
mathematical concepts as well as the processes of defining (Zazkis & Leikin, 2008). If
teachers hold the belief that knowing definitions is not an important part of their MKT, they
might struggle to learn the definitions and engaging students in this particular way might be
impossible.
Choosing and Developing Useable Definitions
Ball and colleagues (2008) formulate the task of teaching that relates to definitions by
using the keywords: choosing, developing and useable. In our interviews, the teachers made
some statements that are related to this. It appears from our analysis of the interview data,
that some teachers believe mathematical definitions are more important in the higher
gradesand that the mathematically correct definitions could be confusing to their younger
students.
1) Adjusting to different groups of students. In their discussion of a testlet related to
definitions of quadranglesthe same item that was discussed by Zachariah and Zelda
abovethe teachers from Kappa High said:
76. Karen: I think they [the MKT measures] should have been differentiated... As an example
if one can have a rectangle that is not a parallelogram and that stuff [definitions of
quadrangles]. (...). But we do not have [teach] it [definitions of different quadrangles] for the
younger ones [students] we teach.
77. Ken: No, exactly. [FGI5, Kappa High, March 9, 2009]
This statement from Karen (76)when seen in its contextcan be interpreted as an
argument against a focus on definitions in the lower grades. Leikin and Zazkis (2010)
described as part of teachers pedagogical content knowledge their ability to match the
teaching of definitions and defining with a particular classroom and to attend to students
ability levels, affective needs and motivation (p. 454). In the excerpt above, however, it
seems more like Karen argues that they do not have to teach definitions of different
quadrangles with their students, and the teacher therefore does not need to know about this.
With reference to the MKT framework, however, one might argue that teachers need to know
the mathematical definitions if they are going to be able to choose and develop definitions
that are appropriate for their students. The teachers knowledge does, however, have to go
beyond the content of the particular grade level they are teaching (Ball, Thames, & Phelps,
2008).
In this connection, it should also be brought into discussion that the demand for teachers
knowledge concerning mathematical definitions needs to be seen in relation to possible
cultural differences in teachers emphasis on learning definitions by heart. Mathematics
curricula vary in their emphasis on knowing and remembering definitions across countries
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 54
(e.g., Ng, 2012), and such cultural differences in the content domain might also be reflected
in cultural differences regarding teachers beliefs about the content of teaching knowledge.
2) Inclusive definitions are confusing. When discussing whether or not the suggested
definitions of quadrangles would be useable among their students, the teachers from Zeta
High argued:
204. Zachariah: Hmm, in the case of our students, I would never have said that a
parallelogram couldin any kind of definitionbe mixed with a rectangle. When I
immediately say that theyd be completely confused. Whether that is the right definition, I
dont know that. I dont know the answer to that right now. But when I explain what a
rectangle is, then I say that: this is a rectangle where you have two sides/edges that are equally
long, two [more] sides/edges that are equally long, but the ratio between the two are not
always the same. In a parallelogram you have the shift () If I start to bring in definitions
claiming it might be like this, and it might be like thatbut not always like thatbut if we
touch it from this angle....
205. Interviewer: Yes. Do you agree with what he said?
206. Zelda: Yes, I have skimmed the cream a little now, no need to go deeper into it than what
is usually needed to solve the tasks. That might be something you explain individually to
those who handle it... [FGI4, Zeta High, March 5, 2009]
Zachariahwhen discussing the inclusive definition of quadrangles aboveseemed to
believe that one particular definition is correct (194). In this excerpt, however, the same
teacher appears to open up to the possibility that there are cultural differences when it comes
to mathematical definitions (204). This might be interpreted as a belief concerning the nature
of mathematics, but it might also be interpreted as an indication of cultural differences
concerning the use of definitions. In any case, this is only a minor observation and it was the
only occurrence of such a discussion in our interviews. Since the knowledge required for
teaching seems be more culturally based than pertaining simply to mathematical knowledge
(Stylianides & Delaney, 2011), however, cultural aspects related to MKT definitions are
important to study further.
Concluding Discussion
Research on mathematics teachers knowledge has been thriving for decades, and a large
amount of studies build upon the foundations laid by Shulman (1986). The attempt by Ball
and her colleagues at the University of Michigan to develop a practice-based theory of
mathematical knowledge for teaching (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008) is widely
acknowledged, and their theory represents an important extension of our understanding of
mathematics teachers knowledge. The theory has been criticized, however, and one issue
that has received criticism is the lack of inclusion of beliefs (e.g., Beswick, 2011, 2012).
Despite the large amount of research concerning beliefs and knowledge, researchers have still
not reached a consensus regarding the relationship between the two. Some argue that the two
are closely connected (e.g., Furinghetti & Pehkonen, 2002), whereas others propose that a
distinction should be made between the two (e.g., Philipp, 2007). In this article, we have
followed Philipps (ibid.) advice and distinguished between beliefs and knowledge.
55 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger

When regarding beliefs and knowledge as two distinct categories, it makes sense to
investigate beliefs about knowledge. Beliefs about knowledgeoften referred to as
epistemological beliefshave been studied by researchers for a long time (e.g., Perry, 1970;
Schommer, 1994). We build upon the suggestion by Buehl, Alexander and Murphy (2002)
that epistemological beliefs are domain specific, and we thus argue that it makes sense to
study teachers beliefs about MKT. Fives and Buehl (2010) proposed that teachers beliefs
about knowledge they needed as teachers represented a distinct domain of teacher beliefs. We
support that, and we have tried to take this idea one step further in this article.
Previous research on mathematics teachers beliefs have often focused on teachers
beliefs about: i) the nature of mathematics, ii) mathematics teaching, or iii) mathematics
learning (Beswick, 2012). In this article, we propose an extension of these categories, and we
suggest that beliefs about the knowledge needed for teaching mathematics should also be
included (see table 2).
Table 2
Extension of Beswicks (2012) categories of teacher beliefs
Beliefs mathematics Beliefs about
mathematics teaching
Beliefs about
mathematics learning
Beliefs about MKT
Instrumentalist Content for performance Mastery of skills Remembering content
Platonist Content with
understanding
Construction of
understanding
Understanding content
Problem solving Learner focused Autonomous
exploration
Adjusting and
differentiating
In our analysis, we have focused on teachers beliefs about the mathematical knowledge
needed to teach definitions. Most of the teachers in our study expressed beliefs about the
importance of such knowledge. In their discussions, however, differences appeared regarding
their understanding of what this meant. One teacher, Benjamin, argued that teachers need to
have clear definitions and know a little about it. Have and know means different things
for different teachers, and this relates to Ernests (1989) categories of beliefs about
mathematics learning (second column from the right in table 2). Some teachers expressed
beliefs supporting the idea that knowledge of definitions includes remembering them,
whereas others, like Zachariah, did not seem to believe that knowing the actual definitions is
important.
Teachers like Zachariah might hold beliefs that indicate an emphasis on understanding the
content more than simply mastering the skills and remember facts. Zachariah and his
colleague Zelda also seemed to be more concerned about adjusting the definitions to their
particular groups of students. Zachariah argued that some definitionslike inclusive
definitionscan be confusing for students, and we can interpret this as a belief concerning
MKT that implies a focus on adjusting and differentiating the content. Ball, Thames and
Phelps (2008, p. 400) presented choosing and developing useable definitions as a
mathematical task of teaching, and this might include adjusting them in order to be more
appropriate to students. This also fits well with the beliefs expressed by Karen and Ken. They
TEACHERS BELIEFS ABOUT MKT DEFINITIONS 56
argued that inclusive definitionsalthough mathematically correctare not necessarily
appropriate to introduce to students in lower grades. Both of these examples also indicate a
connection between teachers beliefs about teaching and their beliefs about MKT.
Based on the results from our analysis of these teachers beliefs concerning this specific
aspect of MKT, we suggest that a more general category of teacher beliefs should also be
considered for inclusion in an extended version of Beswicks (2012) table. We have labeled
the category Beliefs about MKT, and we propose a set of sub-categories (see the right
column of table 2). We suggest that the beliefs in the same row are still theoretical consistent
across the table, and we suggest that the beliefs in the same column constitute a continuum.
This does not imply, however, that individual teachers beliefs are consistent across
categories (Beswick, 2012).
In this study, we analyzed data from focus-group interviews with Norwegian teachers
who had been measured with a set of adapted MKT items. This approach differs from a
traditional use of MKT items, and it also differs from a more traditional approach to
investigating teachers epistemological beliefs (e.g., Fives & Buehl, 2008). We suggest,
however, that such an approach might be useful to investigate further. When asking teachers
to comment on items that have been developed to measure MKT, the context for discussing
beliefs about MKT has been clearly defined. The discussions that naturally emerge in such a
contexte.g. the discussions about definitions in particularcan, we argue, provide
interesting information about the teachers beliefs concerning these particular issues. There
is, however, a need for further research in order to investigate whether or not the more
generalized categories that we have suggested can also be found when analyzing beliefs
about other aspects of MKT. Such studies can also delve deeper into the discussions
concerning the role of beliefs in relation to MKT.
Finally, we want to make a comment regarding the cultural issue. This study was made in
a Norwegian context, and other researchers, like Ng (2012) and Cole (2012), have suggested
that there are cultural differences in the use of definitions and in how student developed
algorithms are emphasized. Such differences might also influence teachers beliefs about
MKT, and further research is needed in order to learn more about the influence of such
cultural differences in teaching practice on teachers beliefs about MKT. This is also related
to an even bigger question about possible cultural differences in MKT as such.
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61 R. Mosvold & J. Fauskanger



Authors
Reidar Mosvold, Associate Professor, Department of Education and Sports Science,
University of Stavanger, 4036 Stavanger, Norway; reidar.mosvold@uis.no
Janne Fauskanger, Assistant Professor, Department of Education and Sports
Science, University of Stavanger, 4036 Stavanger, Norway;
janne.fauskanger@uis.no



International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education IJM Vol.8, No.2-3
The Development of Students Algebraic Proficiency
Irene van Stiphout
Eindhoven School of Education
Paul Drijvers
Utrecht University
Koeno Gravemeijer
Eindhoven School of Education
Students algebraic proficiency is debated worldwide. To investigate the development of algebraic
proficiency in Dutch secondary education, we set up a study, in which 1020 students in grades 8 12
took four algebra tests over a period of one year. Rasch analysis of the results shows that the students
do make progress throughout the assessment, but that this progress is small. A qualitative analysis of
test items that invite structure sense reveals that students lack of structure sense may explain the
results: the majority of the students were not able to deal flexibly with the mathematical structure of
expressions and equations. More attention to structure sense in algebra education is recommended.
Keywords: algebra; algebraic skills; Rasch scale; secondary education; structure sense; symbol sense
Student achievement in algebra is a worldwide concern. International comparative studies
such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the
Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) induced review studies on how to
improve students' algebraic proficiency (e.g., National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008). It
is widely accepted that this proficiency includes not only procedural skills but also involves
algebraic insights.
In the Netherlands, the discussion on algebraic proficiency focused on the level of basic
algebraic skills in the transition from secondary education to higher education. Complaints
were heard that students are not proficient in basic algebraic algorithms and cannot apply
them correctly. As a result, educators and politicians called for a stronger emphasis on
procedural skills (Van Gastel et al., 2007). The following examples from McCallum (2010),
however, illustrate that the demands in higher education exceed the level of superficial
procedural fluency:
recognizing that P (1 +

12
)
12n
is linear in P (finance);
identifying
n(n+1)(2n+1)
6
as being a cubic polynomial with leading coefficient
1
3

(calculus);
observing that I
0
_1 (

c
)
2
vanishes when v = c (physics);
understanding that
c
n
halves when n is multiplied by 4 (statistics).
63 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

To address this worldwide and national debate on algebra achievement, and on procedural
fluency and conceptual understanding in particular, we decided to investigate the
development of algebraic proficiency in Dutch secondary education.
What is Algebraic Proficiency?
As an introduction to our research, we will first discuss what we understand by
proficiency. In doing so, we focus on two aspects, namely the relation between procedural
fluency and conceptual understanding, and the notion of structure sense.
The Relation between Procedural Fluency and Conceptual Understanding
The distinction between procedural fluency and conceptual understanding is central in
discussions on algebraic proficiency. Skemp (1976) distinguished knowing how to apply the
rules and algorithms correctly (instrumental understanding) and knowing both what to do and
why (relational understanding). Kilpatrick et al. (2001) see procedural fluency and conceptual
understanding as two of five strands of mathematical proficiency, along with strategic
competence, adaptive reasoning, and productive disposition. To Hiebert and Lefevre (1986),
procedural knowledge comprises the formal language (including the symbols), and
algorithms and other rules.
It is widely accepted that procedural fluency and conceptual understanding have to go
hand in hand: algebraic expertise encompasses a continuum which ranges from basic skills
such as procedural work for which a local focus and algebraic calculations suffice, to
strategic work which requires a global focus and algebraic reasoning and conceptual
understanding. The latter aspects are probably the hardest to learn and to teach, but at the
same time, the above examples of McCallum (2010) show the importance of flexible skills
such as the ability to read through symbolic expressions and to cleverly select and use
symbolic representations. In line with this, Sfard and Linchevski (1994) argue that flexible
manipulation skills can be seen as a function of the versatility of available interpretations, and
the adaptability of the perspective. In their view, these abilities are part of a structural mode
of thinking.
Symbol Sense and Structure Sense
To capture the flexible skills that are involved in algebraic proficiency, Arcavi (1994,
2005) introduced the notion of symbol sense. He defines symbol sense as a complex feel for
symbols that includes a positive attitude towards symbols and a global view (or Gestalt view)
of expressions. Part of this global view is the ability to read through symbols. As an example
of this, Arcavi (1994) discusses the equation (2x+3)/(4x+6) = 2. Reading through the symbols
reveals that the left-hand side of the equation equals
1
2
for all x 1
1
2
, because the numerator
equals half the denominator. Inspecting the equation before starting to solve it with the
purpose of gaining a feeling for the meaning of the problem is seen as an instance of symbol
sense.
As a second example, Arcavi (1994) discusses Wengers equation, vu = 1 +2v1 +u,
which is to be solved for v (Wenger, 1987). The difficulty here is to recognize this equation
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 64
as linear in v and to overcome the visual salience of the square roots in the equation (Kirscher
& Awtry, 2004). This requires identifying parts of the expression as units, an ability that is
referred to as the Generalized Substitution Principle (Wenger, 1987).
To solve Wengers equation, the ability to recognize its in this case linear structure is
crucial. This ability is labeled as structure sense. The term structure sense is introduced by
Linchevski and Livneh (1999, p. 191) to describe the ability to use equivalent structures of
an expression flexibly and creatively. In high school algebra, structure sense encompasses a
collection of abilities, such as: recognize a structure, see a part of an expression as a unit;
divide an expression into meaningful sub-expressions; recognize which manipulation is
possible and useful to perform; and choose appropriate manipulations that make the best use
of the structure (Hoch & Dreyfus, 2004, 2006). Novotn and Hoch (2008) define structure
sense as students ability to (1) recognize a familiar structure in its simplest form, (2) deal
with a compound term as a single entity and through an appropriate substitution recognize a
familiar structure in a more complex form, and (3) choose appropriate manipulations to make
best use of a structure.
We believe that structure sense, as defined by Novotn and Hoch (2008), is such an
important aspect of algebraic proficiency that it is worth studying in more detail. In contrast
to Novotn and Hoch, we consider structure sense to be part of symbol sense rather than
being separated ability, namely the part of symbol sense that involves seeing structures and
patterns in algebraic expressions and equations, which is needed while carrying out algebraic
manipulations such as simplifying expressions and solving equations.
Research Questions
In light of the above, we have formulated the following research questions.
1. How does students algebraic proficiency develop from a cross-sectional
perspective?
2. How does students algebraic proficiency develop from an individual perspective?
3. How does students algebraic proficiency develop in terms of structure sense?
How to Investigate Research Questions?
To address these questions, a set of test items was designed. Four tests consisting of
subsets of these items were administered over a calendar year in a partly cross-sectional and
partly longitudinal design. Within the cross-sectional perspective, we first determined the
distributions of the scores of groups of students at a given times, and then compared those
distributions. Within the longitudinal perspective, we looked at how the scores of individual
students developed.
65 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

Test Design
Because the complaints made by students as well as educators primarily concern
algebraic skills taught at the lower secondary level, the algebra test items focus on algebraic
skills taught in grades 7 9 (Van Gastel et al., 2007, 2010). These items are based on the
attainment targets formulated by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science,
combined with the theoretical considerations discussed above, and are inspired by Dutch
textbook series and literature. In Dutch upper secondary education, students choose one of
four different streams, each with a different mathematics curriculum. Because of these
different programs, the items cover only the common algebra topics, which include
expanding brackets, simplifying expressions, and solving equations. The algebra items
included range from basic skills to symbol sense in general, and structure sense in particular.
The complete list of algebra tasks can be found in the Appendix. In addition, numerical tasks
are included that relate to the transition from arithmetic to algebra. These items are not
addressed in this article; they are, however, included in the Rasch scales discussed below.
From the set of items, four tests were composed. Each of these tests consisted of 12 to 16
items and was designed to be completed in half an hour, in order not to overburden the
students and teachers. The four tests consisted of open questions, to be worked out with paper
and pencil. In this way, we avoided students guessing answers. During the tests, calculators
or notes were not allowed.
Test Administration
We assessed students in March 2008, May 2008, October 2008, and February 2009.
Students of grades 8, 9, 10 and 11 (ages 13-16) participated in the first and second
assessment. After the summer vacation, these students were in grades 9 up to 12 in October
2008 and February 2009. To be able to follow individual students, we have used similar items
in different assessments to enable an anchor design.
Table 1
Number of students taking the tests
Grade March May October February Part. Part.
2008 2008 2008 2009 4 1
8/9 164 227 173 171 94 266
9/10 163 160 129 114 56 217
10/11 243 185 163 144 90 268
11/12 244 204 188 72 37 269
Total 814 776 653 501 277 1020
Table 1 provides an overview of the numbers of students who took the tests. Four schools
participated, all making use of one of the two mostly used Dutch text book series and in that
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 66
sense representative. From each school, two classes of each grade were involved. In total,
1020 students participated at least once and 277 students took all four tests.
During data collection a curriculum reform took place. The new curriculum for the grade
10/11 cohort pays more attention to algebraic skills than the old one for cohort grade 11/12,
most notably: solving equations, simplifying and calculating with fractions and square roots
(Ctwo, 2009). In the interpretation of the findings, this curriculum change will need to be
taken into account.
Rasch Scales for Algebraic Proficiency
After data collection, the students written answers were coded 1 for correct and 0 for
incorrect. Doubtful cases were discussed with colleagues. To analyse the test results, we used
the Rasch model, a one parameter item response model (Rasch, 1980; Bond & Fox, 2007;
Linacre, 2009). With a Rasch analysis, one linear scale is created on which both persons are
situated according to their ability and items according to their difficulty. On this scale, not
only the order but also the distances between the items and the students have meaning. Rasch
theory supposes that the probability of a person giving a correct answer on an item is a
logistic function of the difference between that person's ability and the difficulty of the item.
The probability
ni
P of person n with ability
n
B to correctly answer item i with difficulty
i
D
is given by =
1
B D
n i
ni B D
n i
e
P
e

+
.
Both the ability of the persons and the difficulty of the items are measured in so-called
units of log odds ratios, or logits. The local origin of the Rasch scale is usually situated in the
center of the range of item difficulties. If the ability equals the item difficulty, that is, if
=
n i
B D, then
0
0
1
= = =
1 2
1
B D
n i
ni B D
n i
e e
P
e
e

+
+
.
For each assessment, including the arithmetic assignments, we created its corresponding
Rasch scale. Next, we connected the four Rasch scales by using anchor items, i.e., similar
items in the different assessments. As a result, items of all four assessments are placed on one
scale. Also, students of different assessments have a Rasch measure on one scale.
To determine which items students master, we need to decide what we view as mastery.
We consider a probability of 80% of answering an item correctly as an expression of
mastering that item. From the Rasch model it follows that a probability of 0.8 of person n
answering item i correctly corresponds to an ability
n
B which is 1.39 logit higher than the
difficulty
i
D of item i because if =1.39
n i
B D , then
1.39
1 1.39
= = 0.8
1
1
B D
n i
ni B D
n i
e e
P
e
e


+
+
. As a
consequence, we consider that students with a measure at least 1.39 higher than the measure
of the item master that particular item. The fit of the Rasch model to the data was checked.
With respect to the reliability, we found values of .70 , .70 , .66 and .68 for assessments 1,
2, 3 and 4, respectively. These reliability scores can be compared to Cronbachs alpha.
67 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

Differences between Student Cohorts
To address the first question on the development of the different cohorts of students, we
performed a cross-sectional comparison of grades 8 through 12. Figure 2 shows the
percentiles of Rasch measures in logits of the four cohorts of students. As the number of
participating students varied over the assessments, the bars between the dashed lines only
partly represent the same students.

Figure 1. Cross-sectional percentiles of all grades in all assessments.
Figure 1 shows that the averages of the different assessments generally increase with the
grades. For the central 50% of the students (the white parts of the bars), the difference
between the lowest average (grade 8, May 2008) and the highest average (grade 12, February
2009) is approximately two logits. Thus, the dispersion within the twelve or sixteen different
assignments is rather small with regard to the difference between the worst and the best
scoring student (the length of the whole bar). If we focus on 80% of the students (i.e., leaving
out the best and worst 10%), we see that they are within a range of at most 3.8 logits of each
other. Grade 9/10 performs better than grade 8/9 and grade 10/11 performs better than grade
9/10. The difference between grade 10/11 and grade 11/12 is less obvious. Here we note that
the curriculum of students in grade 11/12 differs from the curriculum of students of the other
grades on algebraic skills, which makes it hard to interprete this lack of difference between
grades 10/11 and grades 11/12.
To sum up, the cross-sectional analysis showed that there is progress and there is only
little dispersion among the central 50% of the students. There seems to be a growth in ability
between the cohort of grade 10/11 and that of grade 11/12, which might be a positive effect
of the curriculum changes in the Netherlands.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 68
Individual Proficiency Development

Figure 2. Rasch measures of students in the first and fourth assessment (N=390).
To address the second question on the development of individual students algebraic
proficiency over time, Figure 2 shows the Rasch measurements in logits of individual
students in the first assessment (horizontally) against the similar results of the fourth
assessment (vertically). Each dot represents one student who participated in both the first and
the fourth assessment. Students above the dashed line improved their performance, whereas
students below the dashed line show a decreasing ability. The open dots represent students
who did not make significant difference; the filled dots represent students who made
significant progress or retrogress. Based on the 95% confidence intervals provided by the
Rasch analysis, the results show that the majority of the students (358 out of 390) did not
make significant progress. Some students (30 out of 390) did make progress, whereas 2
students retrogressed.
Summarizing, this analysis showed that individual students make progress during a
calendar year, but that only few students made significant progress.
69 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

A Closer Look on Structure Sense Items

Figure 3. February 2009 student percentiles and structure sense tasks on the Rasch scale.
To investigate students proficiency development in a more qualitative way, we analyze
in greater detail the tasks that are tailored to structure sense. We selected ten tasks from the
four assessments for which recognizing the algebraic structure of an expression or seeing a
part of an expression as a unit really pays off. Figure 3 provides an overview of student
measures of the fourth assessment in February 2009, and the task difficulties. For claritys
sake, in case of similar tasks, we included only one task in the Figure, resulting in seven
tasks: one involving simplification an expression, the other six on solving equations.
Central in Figure 3 is the horizontal axis with logits as units. The gray scaled bars above
the axis represent student ability in percentiles in the fourth assessment in February 2009.
The bars below the horizontal axis represent the difficulty of the tasks on the Rasch scale.
The left-hand side of a bar corresponds to a probability of 0.50 of answering the
corresponding task correctly, which is usually referred to as the Rasch measure of the task;
the right-hand side of the bar corresponds to a probability of 0.80 of answering that task
correctly. Tasks for which the corresponding bars lie on the left-hand side of the dashed line
are mastered by at least 50% of the grade 12 students. Figure 3 shows that all seven tasks are
mastered by less than 25% of the grade 12 students.
Below, we discuss the students performance on each of the seven tasks.
Items A1 and A2: Fraction in Equation
In the first assessment (March 2008), students were asked to report the first clue they
would provide a classmate to help solve the equation
15
= 3
6
4
1 x
+
+
. The Rasch measure of
this task, A1, is 0.31 logit (probability of success 0.50 ). The way the task was formulated
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 70
left room for answers such as I would call the teacher for help. This kind of answer
revealed problems in the dichotomous coding of student answers. To avoid this kind of
answer, a formal version, A2, was included in the third assessment. The Rasch measure of the
latter version is 0.01 logit, so the tasks did not differ much.
To solve these equations, different strategies can be used. For example, students may use
the cover-up method and cover the denominator. In this way, the equation becomes
15
= 3
W
,
which is easily solved, providing w u. Following this line of thought, the next step would
be 4 = 5 + which implies
6
=1
1 x +
. This equation in turn could be solved by covering the
denominator, thus yielding
6
=1

, which implies 1 = 6 x + . An example of a more formal


strategy is to multiply the numerator and the denominator both with 1 x + , or multiply both
sides of the equation with the denominator
6
4
1 x
+
+
. These strategies have in common that
students have to identify a part of the equation (the denominator, or a part of the
denominator) as an object, which is seen as an expression of structure sense.
Item A3: Simplification
In the second assessment (May 2008), we asked students to simplify the expression
2 2
2
5 10 2(2 4)
.
2
x x
x
+ +
+

The Rasch measure of this task is 0.22 logit (probability of success 0.50 ). A similar
task, A4, with Rasch measure 0.50 , was included in the fourth assessment (February 2009).
This formula has the structure
5 4 W W
W
which leads to
2
2
2
2
x
x
+
+
. But simply expanding the
brackets and taking similar terms together yields the same. In both cases the next step is to
recognize that this fraction consists of two similar expressions that are divided, so the fraction
yields one.

Translation:Vereenvoudig zo ver mogelijk: Simplify
Figure 4. Work of a grade 8 (left) and a grade 10 (right) student.
71 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

An example of the difficulties students experienced is presented in Figure 4. The grade 8
student rewrote the numerator
2 2
5 10 2(2 4) x x + + to
2 2
5 8(2 4) x x + + by erroneously taking
10 and 2 together. To this student, the algebraic structure of the numerator was not clear.
Another type of error is shown in the right screen of Figure 4. This grade 10 student correctly
simplified the expression to
2
2
2
2
x
x
+
+
. Then he concluded that
2
2
2
2
x
x
+
+
equals zero instead of
one. This error might stem from an inability to see the algebraic structure of the expression,
but other explanations such as a deep misunderstanding of fractions or the student being used
to the form expression = 0 seem also reasonable.
Item A5: Factorization
In the second assessment, students were asked to solve the equation
( 5)( 2)( 3) = 0. x x x +
This requires students to identify the underlying algebraic structure, which involves three
factors on the left side of the equation, and the product of these three factors equals zero. The
structure is = 0 A B C , which implies = 0 A or = 0 B or = 0 C . The Rasch measure of this
task is 0.68 logit (probability of success 0.50 ). A similar task, A6, was included in the fourth
assessment. This task was perceived as less difficult, with a Rasch measure of 0.60 logit,
probably due to a test-retest bias. The difficulty of these tasks can be explained by the
students' tendency to expand the brackets, after which they could not find the factorization.
Some of the students came to see the error and recovered by giving the correct answer.

Translation: Los op: Solve
Figure 5. Work of grade 12 student.
Figure 5 shows such a work of a grade 12 student who started to solve the equation by
expanding the brackets. In the second line of this work, he correctly wrote that
3 2 2 2
4 3 12 4 3 12 = 0. x x x x x x x + + +
Moving to the next line, he forgot the factor 12x , so erroneously concluded that
3 2
2 12 = 0 x x x + + . In the next line, which is scratched, he started to factor out x.
Apparently, then he realized that the solutions can be found more easily and wrote the correct
solutions down.
The students' tendency to expand the brackets indicates the visual salience of the brackets.
The underlying structure of = 0 A B C is overlooked.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 72
Item A8: Arcavi's Equation
In the section on structure sense, we addressed the equation (2 3) / (4 6) = 2 x x + + . Arcavi
(1994) argues that resisting the impulse to immediately solve the equation, and instead to try
to read meaning into the symbols, is an expression of symbol sense, and in our opinion of
structure sense in particular. In this example, it requires that students recognize the form
2
A
A

in the expression (2 3) / (4 6) x x + + . To do so, it is necessary to see 2 3 x + as a unit.
However, realizing that (2 3) / (4 6) x x + + equals
1
2
is not necessary for the solving process.
Just solving the equation and finding the solution
1
= 1
2
x and realizing that the denominator
equals zero, is a correct procedure for solving this equation. So, reading through the equation
and seeing the structure is practical, but not necessary.
The ability to see
2
A
A
manifests more structure sense than finding the solution for which
the denominator equals zero and then concluding that the equation does not have a solution.
Since more structure sense is supposed to be an expression of a higher level of algebraic
proficiency, we expect students with more symbol sense to have a higher Rasch measure, and
thus we expect students who see
2
A
A
to have a higher Rasch measure than students who
found the solution for which the denominator equals zero. To investigate this relation
between these strategies and students proficiency, we performed a qualitative analysis of the
written answers of the students. As we were interested in the strategies used to solve this
equation, we restricted the analysis to the correct answers. The analysis yielded three
categories of students. First, students that argued that the quotient equals
1
2
. These students
recognized the structure
2
A
A
in the equation. The second category contains students who
found the solution for which the denominator equals zero. These students correctly argued
that this solution is no solution. The third category contains students who gave another
argument. For example, these students only wrote no. Another example is a student who
argued that (2 1) / (4 2) x x + + equals a fraction between 0 and 1. From the 501 participating
students in the fourth assessment, 105 gave a correct solution. Half of these students used the
strategy of the first category. The other students were nearly evenly distributed between the
other categories.
Figure 6 shows the relation between strategy and ability. Again, the central line represents
the Rasch scale of proficiency. The gray scaled bars below the axis represent percentiles of
students' Rasch measures in the fourth assessment in February 2009. The dots above the axis
represent students in a particular grade with a particular strategy.
From the figure we see that, although more students solve the task correctly using the
strategy quotient equals
1
2
than using the strategy denominator zero, the Rasch measure
73 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

of the students using the former strategy is not higher than those using the latter. In other
words, the strategy that is supposed to be a manifestation of more symbol sense does not
imply a higher Rasch measure.

Figure 6. Students ability combined with the strategy used.
In our view, this means that either the relation between strategy and structure sense is not
as strict as the literature suggests, or the relation between structure sense and the underlying
latent variable of the Rasch scale is weak. In the former case, the strategy students use might
depend on the strategy they think they are expected to use based on the recipes Dutch
textbooks provide. Students might think that they have to use these recipes as part of an
(implicit) didactical contract (Brousseau, 1990). From this point of view, the more broadly
applicable strategy denominator zero might be viewed as more valuable, because this
strategy could also be used in case the equation had been
1
(2 1) / (3 2) =
2
x x + + . However,
this single case cannot justify radical conclusions; further research on the relation between
strategies, structure sense and algebraic proficiency seems appropriate.
Items A9 and A10: Wenger's Equation
The two items with the highest difficulty, A9 and A10, are adapted versions of Wengers
equation. Figure 3 shows that these two tasks were far beyond the ability of all students. In
the first assessment, we included Wenger's equation in which we replaced the letters u and v
for readability with the letters a and b. We did not ask students to solve =1 2 1 a b a b + +
for a, because Dutch students are not familiar with this kind of question. Instead, we asked
students to rewrite =1 2 1 a b a b + + as an expression of the form a = . The analysis
revealed that this way of asking is ambiguous to students. For example, students divided both
sides of the equation by b , which yields to
1 2 1
=
a b
a
b
+ +
. This is not the kind of answer
we intended to see, but somehow meets the purport of the question. Exactly two students out
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 74
of the 650 of grades 9, 10 and 11 were able to solve this equation. These two students
recognized the linear form of the equation and gave the correct answer,
1
=
2 1
a
b b +
.
In the third assessment, an adapted version of the equation was included. In this version,
we substituted = 2 b , so the equation to be solved became 2 =1 2 3 a a + . Only 19 out of
the 653 participating students were able to solve this task.
The difficulty of Wengers equations is explained by students inability to recognize the
linear form of the equation. This requires students to sense the symbols as arranged in a
special pattern, which is an expression of structure sense. Wenger (1987) found that students
are able to perform manipulations correctly, but these manipulations do not lead to a solution.
Rather, students go round in circles, create more complex expressions and then reduce these
terms. The square roots that serve as coefficients in this equation may be interpreted by the
students as a signal to square both sides of the equation. The unfamiliarity of students with
square roots as coefficients can enhance the visual salience of square roots (Kirscher &
Awtry, 2004).
We agree that recognizing the linear form is crucial for solving the equation. However, in
our view, there are other hurdles. First, the unconventional sequence of symbols in
2 =1 2 3 a a + . In this equation, the variable is followed by the numerical coefficient in the
left-hand side of the equation. In the right-hand side, the variable is in the middle of the
numerical coefficient. This is an unusual sequence of symbols for Dutch students, because in
Dutch textbook series, the numerical coefficient usually precedes the variable. In this way,
the equation would have been 2 =1 2 3 a a + . We realize that this is only a slight difference
for an expert. But we believe that to students, this change of order perhaps makes the
difference between being able or not being able to solve the equation. The role of the order of
symbols in exercises would be an interesting topic of further studies.
The second hurdle concerns the different roles of the variables a and b in the equation.
The a in the equation serves as unknown, whereas the b serves as a variable. The versatility
of the use of variables is a well known difficulty in mathematics and has been studied by
many researchers (e.g., Matz, 1982; Janvier, 1996; Rosnick, 1981; Wagner, 1983; Trigueros
& Ursini, 1999; Drijvers, 2003; Ursini & Trigueros, 2001; Schoenfeld & Arcavi, 1988). The
skill of flexibly dealing with the different roles of variables can be seen as part of a broad
view on equations. The results for these tasks suggest that students do not have such a broad
view.
Summarizing, our findings confirm that Wengers equation presents students with several
difficulties. These difficulties all concern the ability to recognize the linear structure of the
equation which can be seen as a part of structure sense. The students performance on the two
linear equations does not allow us to conclude which of these difficulties is paramount, but in
our view, solving these equations requires structure sense which the students apparently
lack.
75 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

Conclusion and Discussion
In this article we set out to answer the following research questions.
1. How does students algebraic proficiency develop from a cross-sectional perspective?
2. How does students algebraic proficiency develop from an individual perspective?
3. How does students algebraic proficiency develop in terms of structure sense?
In answer to the first question, we found that the Dutch student cohorts involved in the study
made some progress. In general we concluded that students mastered simple tasks, but tasks
become too complicated rather quickly. The difference between grade 10/11 and grade 11/12
is small. This might be explained by the aforementioned curriculum change: students in grade
8/9, grade 9/10 and grade 10/11 followed a curriculum that includes more algebra than the
program of students of grade 11/12. This curriculum change might have had a positive effect
on students' algebraic proficiency of the students from grade 8/9 through grade 10/11.
Furthermore, there is little dispersion among the middle 50% of the students.
Related to the second question, the analysis of the results yields that the majority of the
individual participants did make progress from the first to the fourth assessment, so in a
period of one year. However, this progress was not significant for the majority of the
students. The answer to the third question is that there are only few tasks that were mastered
by the majority of the students. Although students showed progress both cross-sectionally
and longitudinally, this progress did not encompass the majority of the items. In other words,
the majority of the items were too difficult for students of grade 8, and were still too difficult
for students of grade 12. Furthermore, the range of items that the majority of the students
mastered did not include tasks that involve conceptual aspects of algebraic proficiency, and
for structure sense in particular. In answering the third research question, we found that the
majority of the students was not able to deal flexibly with the mathematical structure of
expressions. Also, the notion of structure sense proved valuable to interprete student results
and to explain student difficulties. For example, the inability to solve the equation
( 5)( 2)( 3) = 0 x x x +

can be understood as the inability to recognize the mathematical
structure = 0 A B C that implies = 0 A or = 0 B or = 0 C , which is a lack of structure
sense.
To put those results in perspective, we have to take into account some limitations of the
study. First, because we did not want to place too heavy a load on the teachers and the
students, we chose to keep the number of test items relatively low. As a consequence,
differences would have had to have been quite large to be significant. Second, a curriculum
change took place during the data collection. The new curriculum pays more attention to
algebra. We took this change into account by concluding that the curriculum change might
have a positive effect if the growth continues.
If we reflect on the studys results, we consider them as disappointing in that the students
hardly develop structure sense. The results suggest that Dutch students hardly develop
structure sense as is evident from the students inability to
see that 15/(4 + (6/(1 + x))) = 3 can be read as 15/W = 3, which means that W=15:3
(providing W 0);
observe that the expressions 5x
2
+ 10 and 2x
2
+ 4 are multiples of x
2
+ 2;
recognize the expression (x S)(x +2)(x S) as a multiplication;
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 76
recognize the equation of Wenger as linear.
These examples reflect the demands of higher educationas expressed by the examples of
McCallum (2010) mentioned in the introductionwhich exceed the level of procedural
fluency. Students tend to choose the routine way for solving problems, and do not manage to
step out of the procedure in order to reconnect to the underlying meaning when needed
(Arcavi, 1994).
The students tendency to focus on routine procedures might be a consequence of the
didactical contract to which the textbooks contribute. These textbooks tend to focus on the
procedures and not so much on symbol sense and structure sense (Van Stiphout, Drijvers &
Gravemeijer, 2013).
A limited feel for the structure of expressions, and for (sub)expressions as objects (Sfard
1991) is an obstacle for reaching a higher level of conceptual understanding in which the
structure and ambiguous nature of the algebraic objects are central. Reaching this higher level
is inherently difficult and involves a shift of thinking. How to reach this higher level is a core
concern of the mathematics education research community. We may conclude that the call
from educators and politicians for more attention to routine and procedural skills will not
solve the students problems, because the problems with the more difficult items do not
primarily stem from a lack of procedural skills, but more from a lack of conceptual
understanding.
Acknowledgements
This article is based on Chapters 2 and 3 of the first authors PhD study: Van Stiphout, I.
M. (2011). The development of algebraic proficiency (Doctoral dissertation). Eindhoven
School of Education, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
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Authors
Irene van Stiphout, PhD., Eindhoven School of Education, Cito Amsterdamseweg 13, P.O.
Box 1034, 6801 MG Arnhem, The Netherlands; Irene.vanStiphout@cito.nl
Paul Drijvers, Associate Professor, Freudenthal Institute for Science and
Mathematics Education, Faculty of Science, Utrecht University, Princetonplein
5, Office 367, PO Box 85170, 3508 AD Utrecht; p.drijvers@uu.nl
Koeno Gravemeijer, Full Professor Emeritus, Eindhoven School of Education, Technische
Universiteit Eindhoven P.O. Box 513 5600 MB Eindhoven; k.gravemeijer@tue.nl

79 I. Van Stiphout, P. Drijvers & K. Gravemeijer

Appendix: Test Items
Tasks with an A in the measure are tasks that have served as anchor items in the Rasch
analysis. Tasks are arranged by increasing measure. The Rasch measure of a task corresponds
to a probability of 0.50 to answer that task correctly.
Test Item Included in test
version
Rasch
Measure
(logits)
Expand the brackets: 4(So +b) = March 2008 -3.46 A
Expand the brackets: S(2p +q) = May 2008 -3.46 A
Expand the brackets: S(4p +q) = October 2008 -3.46 A
Expand the brackets: 4(Sp +q) = February 2009 -3.46 A
Simplify: 2(Sx y) + S(4y 2) = March 2008 -1.47 A
Simplify: S(2o b) + 4(2b S) = May 2008 -1.47 A
Simplify: 4(2x y) + 2(Sy 4) = October 2008 -1.47 A
Simplify: 2(4x y) + S(2y 4) = February 2009 -1.47 A
You know the operations plus, minus, multiplication and
division. We introduce an operation, diamond, and o ^ b is
defined as follows. For two numbers o and b, we say o ^ b =
o
2
o b. Does o ^ b = b ^ o hold for all numbers o and b?
October 2008 -1.24
Simplify (So
2
+ 2o + 7)(o + 8). Show your work. March 2008 -0.85 A
Simplify (2x
2
+ Sx + 4)(x + 6). Show your work. May 2008 -0.85 A
Simplify (2o
2
+ 4o + S)(o + S). Show your work. October 2008 -0.85 A
Simplify (So
2
+ 4o + S)(o + 7). Show your work. February 2009 -0.85 A
Solve: (x 1)(x +S)(x 4) = u. February 2009 -0.60
Simplify:
7x
2
+7-3(2x
2
+2)
x
2
+1
=
February 2009 -0.50
Solve: (x S)(x 7) = S. March 2008 -0.48
A classmate asks for your help in solving
15
4+
6
1+x
= S. He does
not know how to start. Describe what you would do to help your
classmate.
March 2008 -0.31
THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS ALGEBRAIC PROFICIENCY 80
Test Item Included in test
version
Rasch
Measure
(logits)
Simplify:
5x
2
+10-2(2x
2
+4)
x
2
+2
=
May 2008 -0.22
Solve:
21
6+
S
1+x
= S.
October 2008 0.01
Martijn claims that = P 2 implies P =
2
+2. Explain
why you do or do not agree with Martijn.
May 2008 0.07
Solve: x
2
Sx + 6
1
4
= u March 2008 0.33
Solve: (x S)(x +2)(x S) = u May 2008 0.68
Substitute o = 1 and b = 2 in (ob
2
)
3
2(o
2
b)
2
. October 2008 0.72
Substitute o = 2 and b = 1 in (o
2
b)
3
2(ob
2
)
2
. March 2008 0.91
Martijn claims that o
2
= o holds for all numbers, o. Explain
why you do or do not agree with Martijn.
March 2008 1.00
Is there any x for which
2x+1
4x+2
= 2? If so, calculate x; if not,
explain why such an x does not exist.
February 2009 1.34
Is there any x for which
2x+3
4x+6
= 2? If so, calculate x; if not,
explain why such an x does not exist.
March 2008 1.37
Rewrite the formula P =
1

+S as a formula of the form =


something with P
March 2008 1.43
Solve: 2(Sx + 2) = S(2x 1) +7. October 2008 2.01
Solve: o2 = 1 + 2oS. The square roots may remain.
October 2008 3.94
If ob = 1 +2o1 + b, then o =
March 2008 6.13







International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education IJM Vol.8, No.2-3
Varied Ways to Teach the Definite Integral Concept
Iiris Attorps, Kjell Bjrk, Mirko Radic
University of Gvle, Sweden
Timo Tossavainen
University of Eastern Finland, Finland
In this paper, we report on a collaborative teaching experiment based on the Learning Study model (LS
model) which grounds on the Variation Theory. Until today, most of such studies have focused on the
teaching and learning of elementary school mathematics; ours was carried out in undergraduate
mathematics education. In the following, we discuss how we managed to promote students conceptual
learning by varying the treatment of the object of learning (the concept of definite integral and the
Fundamental Theorem of Calculus) during three lectures on an introductory course in calculus. We
also discuss the challenges and possibilities of the LS model and the Variation Theory in the
development of the teaching of tertiary mathematics in general. The experiment was carried out at a
Swedish university. The data of the study consists of the documents of the observation of three lectures
and the students answers to the pre- and post-tests of each lesson. The analysis of learning results
revealed some critical aspects of the definite integral concept and patterns of variations that seem to be
effective to a significant degree. For example, we found several possibilities to use GeoGebra to enrich
students learning opportunities.
Keywords: definite integral, GeoGebra, learning study, tertiary education, variation
In Sweden, like in many other countries (Artigue, 2001), the concept of definite integral
is first met during the last two years of the upper secondary school. The integral function is
usually introduced using the notion of anti-derivative, along the Fundamental Theorem of
Calculus connecting the concept of the definite integral with the intuitive idea of area. The
theory of integration and the Riemann integrals are systematically discussed only in
universities.
Several studies have highlighted difficulties that students encounter with the integral
concept. In early studies carried out by Orton (1983, 1984), it was noticed that some students
have difficulties in solving problems that require capacity to see integration as a limit process
of sums. Ortons studies also showed that students interpret the integral sign as a signal to
do something (cf. Attorps, 2006). Like Orton (1984), also Artigue (2001) found out that
although some students technical ability to calculate definite integrals can be quite
impressive, their conceptual understanding of the concept itself may be poor. Similarly,
Rasslan and Tall (2002) verified that a majority of the students cannot write meaningfully
about the definition of the definite integral. Also many recent studies (e.g., Attorps, 2006;
Rsken & Rolka, 2007; Viirman, Attorps & Tossavainen, 2011; Tossavainen, Haukkanen &
Pesonen, 2013) concerning the learning of other concepts of calculus have verified that the
formal definitions only play a marginal role in students learning; intuition and non-formal
representations dominate their concept learning. For example, Attorps, Bjrk, Radic and
Tossavainen (2010), Blum (2000), Calvo (1997) and Camacho, Depool and Santos-Trigo
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 82

(2010) have verified that students have a strong intention to identify the definite integral with
the area of a domain restricted by the integrand and the coordinate axes.
On the other hand, it seems that students learning of the definite integral can be
supported by using graphing calculators in classroom (Touval, 1997). Also Machn and
Rivero (2003) noticed that students may benefit from ICT in tasks which concern the graphic
and procedural aspects of the definite integral. Nevertheless, the research reports cited above
reveal the limitations of standard teaching methods. Although some students become
reasonably successful in standard tasks and develop in procedural skills, most of them have
difficulties in developing a solid conceptual understanding about the topics itself (Artigue,
2001).
The aim of this study is to investigate whether it is possible, by using technology-assisted
teaching (in this case, the dynamic geometric software GeoGebra), to design such teaching
sequences of the definite integral concept that help us to improve university students
conceptual understanding of the concept. The theoretical framework for our experiment is
based on the Variation Theory which is described in the next section. In its terminology, we
seek an answer to the following questions: Which critical aspects of the definite integral
concept arise during the lectures? How can we compose effective patterns of variation (of the
object of learning) that support students to discern these critical aspects and learn from
them?
From a practical point of view, the design of our teaching experiment is that of the Lesson
Study model (LS model). The LS model is a synthesis of the Japanese Lesson Study (Lewis,
2002; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999) and Design Experiments (Brown, 1992; Cobb et al., 2003;
Collins, 1992). The LS model goes beyond the Japanese Lesson Study in two major aspects.
The first is its theoretical basis: the design of teaching is based on the Variation Theory
(Marton et al., 2004). Researchers and teachers work together to establish a framework for
the joint inquiry. The second is its method for the evaluation of learning. In the Japanese
version, the learners understanding is evaluated as a long developing process. In the LS
model, pre- and post-tests are made before and after every intervention in order to get an
immediate conception of what students have learned (see e.g. Runesson, 1999; Hggstrm,
2008).
The LS model (Marton et al., 2004) makes up a cyclic process as follows:
A learning study group of teachers determines a common object of learning (in our case
the definite integral concept). Previous teaching experiences, theories of concept
learning (e.g., Tall & Vinner, 1981) and results from prior research on the teaching and
learning of the object are taken as a starting point for the design of a pre-test.
Basing on the results of the pre-test, the learning study group plans the first lecture. The
Variation Theory is used as a theoretical framework for designing the lecture.
One of the teachers conducts the first lecture. The lecture is video recorded or observed
by the other teachers (in our case, the teacher group made observations). The students
learning is tested in a post-test designed collaboratively.
Both the test results and the video recordings or the documented observations are
analysed by the learning study group. If the students learning results are not sufficient
83 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

with respect to the goals, the group revises the plan for the same lecture for the next
group of students.
A teacher of the group implements the new plan in another class. In an ideal setting, the
cyclic process continues until the students learning results are optimal.
In our experiment, altogether three researchers participated in the design and analysis of
three lessons, a fourth researcher in the analysis of the results.
Theoretical Framework
The Variation Theory is a theory of learning which is based on the phenomenographic
research tradition (Marton & Booth, 1997). The main idea in the phenomenography is to
identify and describe qualitatively different ways in which people experience certain
phenomena in the world, especially in an educational context (Marton, 1993).
A significant feature of The Variation Theory is its strong focus on the object of learning.
A central assumption is that variation is a prerequisite for discerning different aspects of
object of learning. Hence the most powerful didactic factor for students learning is how the
object of learning is represented in a teaching situation. In order to understand what enables
learning in one teaching situation and not in another, a researcher should focus on discerning
what varies and what remains invariant during a lesson (Marton & Morris 2001). Marton et
al. (2004) have identified four patterns of variation or approaches to discuss the object of
learning: contrast, generalization, separation and fusion. The following excerpts illuminate
the essence of them:
Contrast: in order to experience something, a person must experience something else
to compare it with.
Generalization: in order to fully understand what three is, we must also experience
varying appearances of three.
Separation: in order to experience a certain aspect of something, and in order to
separate this aspect from other aspects, it must vary while other aspects remain invariant.
Fusion: If there are several critical aspects that the learner has to take into consideration at
the same time, they must all be experienced simultaneously. (Marton et al., 2004, 16).
According to Leung (2003), these patterns of variation create opportunities for the
students to understand the underlying formal abstract concept.
The object of learning can be seen from various different perspectives: that of a teacher, a
student or a researcher. The intended object of learning refers to the object of learning seen
from the teachers perspective. It includes what the teacher says and wants the students to
learn during the lecture. The students experience this in their own ways and what they
recognize and learn is called the lived object of learning. Obviously, what students really
learn does not always correspond to what the teachers intention was. The enacted object of
learning is observed from the researchers perspective and it defines what is possible to learn
during the lecture, to what extent and in which forms the necessary conditions of a specific
object of learning actualize in classroom. The enacted object of learning describes the space
of learning that students and teacher create together, i.e., the circumstances for discerning the
critical aspects of the object of learning. (Marton & Tsui, 2004).
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 84

In the Variation Theory, the necessary conditions for learning are the experiences of
discernment, simultaneity and variation. Variation is the primary factor to support students
learning. In order to understand what variations a teacher should use, he or she must first
become aware of the varying ways students may experience the object of learning. This
information is needed for identifying potential ways to help students to discern those aspects
of the learning object they have not previously noticed (Marton, Runesson & Tsui, 2004).
Every concept, situation and phenomenon has particular aspects of their own. If one
aspect is varied and others are kept invariant, the varied aspect should arise and be discerned.
The thorough understanding of the object of learning, e.g., a mathematical concept, requires
the simultaneous discernment of all critical aspects of the object of learning. (Marton &
Morris, 2001; Marton, Runesson & Tsui, 2004). Consequently, the triangle of discernment,
simultaneity and variation can be used also as a framework for analyzing teaching (ibid).
Although the theoretical framework in our study is mostly based on the Variation Theory,
we also acknowledge the theory of concept image and concept definition. Tall and Vinner
(1981, 152) use the term concept image to describe the total cognitive structure that is
associated with the concept, which includes all the mental pictures associated properties and
processes. They suggest that when we think of a mathematical concept, something is evoked
in our memory. Often these images do not relate to the formal definition of a concept, i.e., the
concept definition, but students prefer to focus, for instance, on the archetypical examples
discussing a concept (e.g., Tall, 1994; Viirman, Attorps, Tossavainen, 2011; Tossavainen,
Haukkanen & Pesonen, 2013).
Vinner (1991) claims that the role of definition in mathematical thinking is also neglected
in the teaching of mathematics, textbooks and even in the documents about the goals of
teaching mathematics. He encourages teachers not only to discuss definitions with students
but to train them to use definitions as an ultimate criterion in mathematical reasoning (ibid).
The Variation Theory implies that, in addition to typical examples, it is useful also to pay
attention to nonexamples of mathematical concepts, even weird ones.
Method
The study took place at a Swedish university. Altogether 85 first-year undergraduate
students (engineering and teacher students) and four university teachers participated in the
study. The data consists of photos, observations, notebooks and the video recordings of three
lectures in an introductory calculus course. The students learning was measured using
written pre- and post-tests and interviews.
The interviews focused on the participants understanding about the concept of the
definite integral. They were first transcribed and then analysed following a
phenomenographic research tradition (Marton, 1993): the main goal is to describe how many
qualitatively different conceptions from the certain phenomenon appear rather than to
determine how many people who have a certain conception. In our case, the analysis should
result in a number of the categories of description, i.e., categories representing the
qualitatively different ways in which students comprehend the definite integral concept.
(Booth, 1992).
85 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

The pre- and post-tests for measuring students knowledge about the definite integral and
the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus consisted of six problems; the items will be given
below. In both tests, the same set of questions was used in order to make the learning
outcomes statistically comparable. The maximum of points in each problem was three. To get
three points, the answer needed to be correct and well motivated. For minor faults in
calculations, we deducted one point. For a correct but not satisfactory motivated answer, we
awarded one point. An empty or a meaningless answer resulted in zero points.
Students were given 25 minutes to do the test. The use of any technical facilities like
graphing calculators was not allowed. The results were analysed by using a statistic program
Minitab.
One can obviously ask whether the observed improvements in the post-tests are due to the
familiarity of problems and not a consequence of the implementation of the design of
lectures. In order to minimize this effect, we did not reveal the answers or the results of the
pre-test to the students. Moreover, they did the post-test without any notice about it in
advance. Furthermore, the participating groups were equivalent with respect to their
preliminary education; all students were first-year undergraduates from the engineering or
teacher programme studying the same introductory course in calculus.
A more detailed description of how we designed and implemented each lesson will be
given together with the report on our findings since the design of subsequent lectures was
based on the analysis of the previous one(s). The first lecture is to be considered as a
reference one. It was prepared without any knowledge of the pre-test results.
The pre- and post-test questionnaire was originally in Swedish. The translations of the
items in English are as follows:
Question 1: If you want to calculate the area between the curve and the x-axis and the lines
x=0 and x=5 (see the graphs below), you can get an approximate value of this area by
calculating and summing the area of each column.
a) Which of the following graphs should you choose in order to make the error as small
as possible?

b) Explain your answer.
The aim of the first question was to test a students intuitive conception or concept image
of the exact area as a result of a limiting process (of the upper Riemann sums). By observing
Graph 1 Graph 2 Graph 3
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 86

that the width of each column is halved as we move from the graph 1 to the graph 3, a student
should be able to discern that the area representing the error of approximation also decreases.
Question 2. What does

b
a
dx x f ) ( mean?
The second question aims at measuring whether a student is familiar with the symbol of
the definite integral and, if so, what this symbol evokes in his or her concept image of the
definite integral.
Question 3. There are some approximate values of x and ) (x F given in the table below:
x 1 2 3 4 5
) (x F -1 -0.61 0.30 1.55 3.05
Assume now that . ln ) ( x x F = Approximate the value of

5
3
. ln dx x
The purpose of the third question was to test whether this kind of a problem evokes a link
to the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus in a students concept image of the definite integral.
Question 4. Suppose that

=
5
1
2 ) ( dx x f and

=
7
1
. 1 ) ( dx x f Evaluate

7
5
. ) ( dx x f
This question tests whether a student can apply the additive properties of the definite
integral.
Question 5. Can you find any error in the following reasoning?
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1 1
1
2
1
1
2
=

= =


x
dx x
x
dx

The aim of the fifth question was to examine whether a student have a correct conception
about the prerequisites for applying the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
Question 6. Find the area of the region limited by the functions f (x) = 0.5x
2
and g (x) = x
3
.
Give the exact value of it.
The idea of the last question was to test the students procedural skills in applying the
Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
In the next section we are going to present the results of our study which consisted of
three lectures on the same topic. The first lecture is to be considered as a reference one. It was
prepared without any knowledge of the pre-test results. The second and the third lectures
were designed on basis of the information of the post-test results of the first and the second
lecture respectively. Having this information available, we revised the patterns of variation
of the observed critical aspects of the object of learning in lecture two and three.
87 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

Results
The analysis of our findings follows the hypothesis of Marton and Morris (2002) and
Marton and Tsui (2004) that different patterns of variation create different learning
opportunities. Therefore, we begin by illuminating the progression of each lecture.
Lecture One
The first lecture (LS1) was designed by the first lecturer alone, without having any prior
knowledge of the pre-test results. Two researchers observed the lecture. The first group is
therefore to be considered as a reference group; it consisted of engineering students only.
The lecture started with a discussion about the area concept and how to calculate the area
of common figures such as rectangles, triangles and parallelograms. For example, the area of
a circle was estimated by transforming the circle into a parallelogram. It was done by cutting
the circle into wedges which were then organized into the shape of a parallelogram. As the
number of wedges increases, the area of the parallelogram approaches to the area of the
original circle.

Figure 1. The transformation of a circle into a parallelogram.
The lecture continued with a discussion about how to calculate areas for irregular regions
such as an area between an arbitrary continuous function and the x-axis. In this context, the
sigma symbol (summing) and the concepts of Lower and Upper Riemann sums were
introduced. The end of the lecture was spent on demonstrating how to proceed when
calculating an area of the plane region lying above the x-axis and under the curve y = e
x
, i.e.,
e
x
0
1

dx.
The problem was studied first in terms of Lower and Upper Riemann sums and the
limiting process and then solved by applying the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. In
discussion, the conditions for applying the theorem were not mentioned explicitly. After the
lecture, the students answered the post-test anonymously.
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 88


Figure 2. The calculation of area using the Riemann sums and the limiting process.
Lecture Two
Before designing the second lecture, we decided that, in order to improve the precision of
our statistical evaluation, we should compare the results of the pre- and post-test in the
subsequent learning studies LS2 and LS3 at the individual level instead of the group level as
was the case in LS1. Furthermore, we decided to videotape our next lectures.
Before the second lecture, we carefully analysed the observations and the results of the
post-test. The results in Table 1 summarize the learning results of the first group. In a more
thorough inquiry to LS1, we could identify the following three critical aspects.
First, we noticed that most of the students, who answered the second question, had
interpreted the definite integral in Question 2 merely as an area and not as a real number that
can have negative, zero or positive value. Second, the results both in the pre- and post-tests
indicated that the students have difficulties in discerning the correct conditions for applying
the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, especially in the case when it is not possible
(Question 5). Third, a large majority of the students failed in solving the ordinary routine
exercise (Question 6). For example, they could not decide which one of the functions
represents the upper or lower function or determine the intersection points between the
functions. Some of them even had problems with the arithmetic of fractions.
Having this information available, we revised the patterns of variation of these three
critical aspects in the next lectures so that the correct aspect should be easier to discern. For
example, we decided to emphasize the formal definition of the definite integral and the fact
that it cannot always be interpreted as an area. Further, students should pay more attention to
the conditions of theorems to be applied.
The second lecture was carried out by a teacher in the research group to a mixed group of
engineering and teacher students. The second lecture started with a discussion about the
concept of area and regular (polygonal) and irregular regions in the plane. After that, the
89 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

definite integral concept was introduced and discussed through a typical example from upper
secondary school: dx x x ) 2 (
2
0
2

. Also the geometric interpretation of the problem was


illustrated and the problem was solved using the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus
emphasizing the conditions for applying it. Then another variant of the same problem was
discussed graphically by studying the functions x x f 2 ) ( = and
2
) ( x x g = , see Figure 3.
Further, using two different approaches to solve the same problem, we especially aimed at the
experiences of generalization and separation.

Figure 3. The illustration of the upper and lower functions.
The concepts of the upper ( x x f 2 ) ( = ) and lower (
2
) ( x x g = ) functions were introduced
in this connection. We also recalled how to find the intersection points of the functions. After
that, the second lecture continued similarly as the first one with discussions about how to find
the area by using estimation (Lower and Upper Riemann sums) and the limiting process for
arbitrary irregular regions above the x-axis. However, in order to show how to interpret the
definite integral in the general case (i.e. not only as an area), the following example was
considered thoroughly.


Figure 4.

b
a
dx x f ) ( = area R
1
- areaR
2
+ areaR
3
.
By constructing an example where the definite integral of a function had a negative value, we
emphasized the experience of contrast.
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 90

In the end of the lecture, the example of dx
x


2
0
1
1
was examined graphically reflecting on
the necessary conditions for applying the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.

Figure 5. The graph of the function
1
1
) (

=
x
x f .
In order to stress the importance of the necessary conditions for applying the Fundamental
Theorem of Calculus, here we emphasized the experiences of separation and fusion.
Lecture Three
The test results (Table 2) for the second group of engineering and teacher students
revealed that students understanding about the concept of definite integral was still
inadequate although some statistically significant improvements were observed. Most of the
students interpreted the definite integral again only as an area. Similarly, the problems related
to the conditions for applying the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (Question 5) remained
actual; likewise the problems in solving the ordinary routine exercise (Question 6). In order
to gain a more detailed view of students conception of the definite integral, we interviewed
five students from the second group. The analysis of the interviews revealed three different
categories of description: the definite integral is seen as 1) a limiting process, 2) an area or 3)
a procedure.
The first category represents those students whose conceptions of the definite integral
focus on a limiting process, the approximation of the area of a curvilinear region by breaking
it into thin vertical rectangles. One of the students describes the process in the following way:
The error decreases the closer the infinite the number of columns are nearing. The columns
will look like the curve more and more. This excerpt and the test results from lectures one
and two indicated that some students have a relatively good intuitive understanding about the
definite integral as a limiting process.
For the students in the second category of description, the definite integral

b
a
dx x f ) (
stands for the area between f(x) and x-axis. It is an area between y=0 and y=f(x) in the
interval [a, b] as one of the students explained in the interview. Most of the students in this
study described the definite integral in the pre- and post-tests in this or a similar way.
The students belonging to the third category viewed the definite integral as a procedure.
For them, the definite integral seems to be merely a formula and they use procedures without
considering definitions and theorems when solving problems related to that. One of the
91 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

interviewed students described his conception in the following way: This I had to learn in
upper secondary school. You write down the primitive function with brackets. I take the
values of the end point minus the starting point, then it's just a simple subtraction. Another
student said, when looking at Question 5, It looks like an ordinary integral calculation. That
is correct
The weakest students of the study fell typically into this category. These students
mentioned in interviews that theorems were not much discussed from a theoretical point of
view in upper secondary school. Theorems were applied more like formulas.
Taking into account the results from the pre- and post-tests and the interviews we again
revised our plan for the next lecture. The most notable difference between the third and the
previous lectures is that we decided to use the free dynamic mathematics software GeoGebra
for the illustration of critical aspects.
The third lecture was given by the same teacher as the second one but now to a new group
consisting of only engineering students. It began with a short discussion about how to find an
area for a (polygonal) regular and an irregular region lying above the x-axis.
The first exercise with GeoGebra (see Figure 6) focused on the numerical approximation
of the area as the Lower and Upper Riemann sums and the definition of the definite integral
as the limiting process. In Figure 6, two points, a and b, are shown and they can be moved
along the x-axis in order to modify the investigated interval. The values of the Upper and
Lower sums together with their difference are displayed as a dynamic text automatically
adapting to the modifications. In this exercise, we kept f(x) and the interval invariant and
varied the number of subintervals. Our intention was to show that, by increasing the number
of subintervals, the difference between the lower and upper sums can be made to decrease,
suggesting that the lower and upper sums eventually coincide with the value of the definite
integral. By utilizing GeoGebra we created the pattern of generalization dynamically.

Figure 6. The Lower and Upper Riemann sums and the inherent infinite processes.
After this, the same problem as shown in Figure 3 was solved. It was also highlighted that
when applying the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus for dx x x ) 2 (
2
0
2

, the
function
2
2 ) ( x x x y = must satisfy the following assumptions: it must be a defined,
continuous and nonnegative function on the closed interval [a, b]. The following two figures
demonstrate how we illustrated the conflict between the definition of the definite integral
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 92

concept and the area interpretation of it. GeoGebra gave us a good opportunity to
dynamically demonstrate contrast, which was one of the patterns of variation.

Figure 7. The value of the definite integral is now identical to the area between function and
x-axis in the interval [a, b].

Figure 8. The definite integral results in a real number which can be positive, zero or
negative.
In the second GeoGebra application related to Figures 7 and 8, two points, a and b, are
shown so that they can be moved along the x-axis. The area and the value of the definite
integral are displayed as a dynamic text. In this exercise, we kept only f(x) invariant and
varied both the length of the interval and the upper and lower limit points in order to show
that the values of the area between the function and the x-axis and the definite integral do not
always coincide. Our goal with the third exercise (Figure 9) was to help the students to
discern situations where it is possible to apply the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus and to
notice when it is not.
93 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen


Figure 9. The illustration of the conditions of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
By moving the point A along the x-axis, we can vary the position of the investigated
interval. In this exercise, we kept the length of the interval and the functions f(x) and g(x)
invariant and varied the location of the point A. By using the dynamic nature of GeoGebra
we were able to demonstrate all the aspects of variation, i.e. contrast, generalization,
separation and fusion. In the end of the third lecture, the same problem ( dx
x


2
0
1
1
) as shown
in Figure 5 was studied.
Quantitative Analysis of the Pre- and Post-Tests
We analysed the scores of the pre- and post-tests with the Minitab software using both the
independent, two-sided, two-sample t-test (Lecture 1) and dependent, two-sided, t-test for
paired samples (Lectures 2 and 3) at the significance level of 5% (0.05). In the pre- and
post-test of the first lesson, the number of participants was 28 and 24, respectively. The
results of the pre- and post-tests were recorded on each item only at the group level, which
explains why we use the different t-test for this group. Concerning the following lessons, we
compared the means of the test results on each item at the individual level. The second group
(18/18 students) consists of both engineering and teacher students and the third group (39/39
students) only of engineering students. Tables 1 and 2 show the results of the analyses.
Table 1
The quantitative results of the pre- and post-tests (unpaired t-test) of the first lecture.
Problem no. Learning
study no.
Pre-test
mean
Post-test
mean
p Maximum
scores
1a 1 0.93 1.00 0.16 1
1b 1 1.07 1.00 0.67 2
2 1 0.43 0.46 0.88 3
3 1 0.68 0.88 0.59 3
4 1 1.54 1.75 0.60 3
5 1 0.00 0.00 0.91 3
6 1 0.04 0.25 0.18 3
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 94

In Table 1, we see that there are no statistically significant differences in learning results
concerning the first lecture. The results related to the second and third lectures are given
together in Table 2.
As Table 2 shows, the third lecture seems to have succeeded best: statistically significant
improvements happened in many test items. The students scores in question 1 a) and b) show
that the students intuitive understanding about the definite integral concept as an infinite
process was quite good already at the beginning like their capacity to apply the additive
property of definite integrals.
Almost all students failed to give an adequate response to question 5; most of them could
not even find any errors at all. In Question 6, a majority of students could not discern which
of the functions represented upper and lower functions or that how to determine the
intersection points between the functions or how to calculate with fractions or how to give an
exact answer.
Table 2
The quantitative results of the pre- and post-tests (paired t-test) of the second and third
lectures.
Problem no.
Learning
study no.
Pre-test
Mean
Post-test
mean
p
Maximum
scores
1a
2 0.94 1.00 0.33
1
3 0.92 1.00 0.08
1b
2 1.11 1.11 1.00
2
3 0.82 0.82 1.00
2
2 0.83 0.44 0.09
3
3 0.51 0.97 0.00*
3
2 1.44 0.33 0.00*
3
3 0.13 0.92 0.00*
4
2 1.28 1.28 1.00
3
3 0.38 1.12 0.00*
5
2 0.00 0.00 --
3
3 0.00 0.46 0.01*
6
2 0.78 0.28 0.02*
3
3 0.10 0.31 0.02*
--- = p-value could not be calculated (Minitab: all values in column are identical, * p < 0.05
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to find out whether university students learning can be
supported by finding suitable teaching sequences that help students to discern and experience
mathematical concepts from the meaningful points of view. Experiencing variations of
95 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

critical features of the object of learning should be, by the variation theory, a primary factor
in enhancing students learning (Marton & Booth, 1997; Marton & Morris, 2002).
In our study, two university teachers taught the definite integral concept for three student
groups on an introductory course in calculus. Two of the lectures were prepared and planned
with extraordinary care, taking into account the results from the written pre- and post- tests.
Although the study consisted only of three lectures, it revealed that different teaching
approaches had a significant influence on that how students learning outcomes developed
during the lectures.
We succeeded best in designing teaching sequences of the definite integral concept when
we used the GeoGebra software. We interpret this being mainly due to the fact that GeoGebra
is an effective tool for the illustration of dynamic processes, e.g., the limiting process of
Riemann sums, and it allows a learner to experience simultaneously many critical aspects,
e.g., how the area and the value of the definite integral are effected when the interval is
modified. Also earlier research (i.e., Leung, 2003) shows that GeoGebra is a suitable
pedagogical tool in creating the patterns of variation.
It is worth noticing that it did not provide a remarkable aid in Question 6 (although the
difference between the mean scores of the pre- and post-tests improved for the third group in
a statistically significant way). A plausible explanation is that GeoGebra or any other
software cannot be used to compensate the lack of fundamental arithmetic skills although it
often helps us to bypass challenging calculations and focus on the conceptual understanding
of a mathematical problem.
In this study, we observed three critical aspects of the definite integral that seem to be
important for the successful teaching of this concept and, consequently, for the design of the
relevant patterns of variations. All these aspects can be discussed using GeoGebra.
First, it is important to consider the definite integral as a real number (i.e. the result of a
limiting process) in a wider context and separate it from seeing it only as an area. This aspect
was not elaborated during the first lecture which can also be seen in the results of Tables 1
and 2. The use of GeoGebra during the third lecture seemed to extend students possibilities
to experience the concept of the definite integral in this wider context.
In the teaching sequences related to Figures 7 and 8, the students were given
opportunities to experience an effective contrast, i.e., to discern the definite integral not only
as an area but, simultaneously, also as a real number. This allowed them to experience a
generalization, that is to say, to experience that the definite integral can be a negative
number, zero or a positive number.
Second, in spite of many efforts, it is plausible that many students concept images of the
definite integral will be based on the area interpretation (cf. Blum, 2000) and Tall and Vinner
(1981). To change this, it may require a thorough revision of mathematics textbooks in school
since they seem to emphasize this aspect. It is hard for an individual teacher to resist such a
tradition but as our third lecture verifies, it is possible in a technological environment.
Third, the results also indicated that most students have difficulties in applying the
Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, especially when the assumptions of the theorem are not
satisfied. During the first lecture, the theorem was only mentioned quite superficially. On
other lectures, the issue was given more attention; both examples and counter examples were
elaborated. In the teaching sequence particularly related to Figure 9, the students were given
VARIED WAYS TO TEACH THE DEFINITE INTEGRAL CONCEPT 96

an opportunity to experience a separation and a fusion. In order to experience a specific
aspect when it is not possible to apply the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus and in order
to separate this aspect from other aspects, the aspect must be varied while other aspects must
remain constant.
In our teaching sequence, we kept the length of the interval and the functions f(x) and g(x)
invariant and by moving the point a along the x-axis we could vary the position of the
investigated interval. The same sequence again gave the students an opportunity to
experience the pattern of variation called fusion, i.e. if there are several critical aspects as it
is possible to apply the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, it is not possible to apply the
Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, the function is defined and continuous in the closed and
bounded interval, the function is not defined and continuous in the closed and bounded
interval and so on, they must all be experienced simultaneously.
The students learning outcomes in Question 5 show that their conceptions of the
conditions for applying the theorem were not changed after the second lecture. Only after the
GeoGebra-based teaching sequence we could notice some statistically significant
improvements of their results. We agree with Vinner (1991) that the students should be
trained to use definitions as an ultimate criterion in mathematical issues in teaching and
learning of mathematics. The students even mentioned in interviews that theorems were not
discussed from the theoretical point of view; they were used as formulas. Students use
procedures without considering definitions and theorems when solving problems. In order to
develop a deeper understanding about the definite integral concept it is therefore important
that the varying aspects of mathematical concepts are illuminated by using both examples and
non-examples of the concepts in teaching of mathematics.
Yet another critical aspect we found is that students poor arithmetic skills (Question 6)
prevent them from gaining a deeper conceptual understanding about mathematical
phenomena. Varying methods in order to solve this type of problem were applied during the
second and third lecture but with a vanishing effect.
All in all, we are not very satisfied with the students learning outcomes in this study.
Further studies need to be undertaken to identify which other factors than the integration of
technology and the LS model in the teaching and learning of mathematics can benefit both
mathematics educators and students. It must be stressed once again that teaching and learning
are very complex phenomena and the relation between them is not one to one. In a teaching
experiment like this, it would also be important to analyse what happens in the classroom in
the interaction between the teacher and the students and between the students. Not even a
good design of a lecture guarantees students learning but it can increase possibilities for
learning if students conceptions and misconceptions of mathematical concepts are taken into
account.
Finally, the study gave us a rare opportunity to collaborate with colleagues teaching and
preparing a lecture. It was a rewarding experience to reflect and analyse students learning
together. We all agree that the LS model and the Variation Theory are effective tools for
developing the teaching of mathematics and they provide a useful tool for increasing the
teachers awareness of the critical aspects of students learning and enhancing the learning of
mathematics in higher education.
97 I. Attorps, K. Bjrk, M. Radic & T. Tossavainen

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Authors
Iiris Attorps, Associate Professor, Ph.D., Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable
Development University of Gvle , Sweden; ias@hig.se
Kjell Bjrk, University Lecturer, MSc, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable
Development University of Gvle , Sweden; kbk@hig.se
Mirko Radic, University Lecturer, Ph.D., Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable
Development University of Gvle , Sweden; mrc@hig.se
Timo Tossavainen, Associate Professor, Ph.D., School of Applied Educational Science and
Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Finland; timo.tossavainen@uef.fi




International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education IJM Vol.8, No.2-3
The Influence of Elementary Preservice Teachers Mathematical Experiences on their
Attitudes towards Teaching and Learning Mathematics
Cindy Jong
University of Kentucky
Thomas E. Hodges
University of South Carolina
This study examined how preservice elementary teachers perceptions of past schooling experiences
and their experience in a mathematics methods course influenced their attitudes about mathematics
teaching and learning. Pre- and post-surveys were administered to preservice teachers (n = 75) enrolled
in a mathematics methods course at a university in the northeastern United States. The purpose of the
surveys was to understand entering attitudes about mathematics, whether those attitudes changed, and
why. Findings indicated that perceptions of prior schooling experiences influenced preservice teachers
initial attitudes about mathematics. Over the course of a semester, however, significant positive
changes in preservice teachers attitudes and confidence to teach mathematics suggest that experiences
in the mathematics methods course were conducive to building on preservice teachers prior
experiences. We argue that regardless of the nature of preservice teachers prior experiences in
mathematics, those experiences can provide an effective backdrop for developing attitudes towards
mathematics teaching and learning aligned with reform recommendations. Recommendations are made
for mathematics teacher educators to build upon entering attitudes and experiences in their
mathematics methods courses.
Keywords: Mathematics Education; Preservice Teachers; Survey Research
It has long been argued that teachers affect is an important part of the way teachers
understand mathematics (Ball, 1990; McLeod, 1994). At an international level, studies
examining affect have influenced the field of mathematics education and how it has been
conceptualized in teacher education (Leder & Grootenboer, 2005). In Philipps (2007) review
of literature on mathematics teachers beliefs and affect, he argues that for many students
studying mathematics in school, the beliefs or feelings that they carry away about the subject
are at least as important as the knowledge they learn of the subject (p. 257). Philipp defines
affect as [a] disposition or tendency or an emotion or feeling attached to an idea or object,
which is comprised of emotions, attitudes, and beliefs (p. 259). In this study we focus on
one aspect of affect, namely the attitudes that preservice teachers (PTs) develop through their
perceived experiences as K-12 learners of mathematics and their experiences in mathematics
methods coursework. This article contributes to the literature on attitudes in mathematics
education research by quantitatively examining the connections among preservice teachers
attitudes toward mathematics, perceived past schooling in mathematics, and the mathematics
methods course experience. This study also extends beyond descriptive statistics to examine
the factors that influence positive changes in attitudes along with a growth in PTs confidence
to teach mathematics. Ultimately, we argue that, regardless of the nature of prior experiences
in mathematics and whether or not they are oriented toward a reform view, teacher educators
101 C. Jong & T. Hodges

need to draw upon PTs entering attitudes and experience as resources to inform the
mathematics methods course instruction. This focus is significant because many students
1

develop negative attitudes towards mathematics, seeing it as a source of frustration and
anxiety (Ignacio, Blanco Nieto, & Barona, 2006). These attitudes then become a part of the
apprenticeship of observation (Lortie, 1975), beginning with the thousands of hours spent as
a student in schools, which creates a latent culture that surfaces when one becomes a
teacher.
Additional research has shown that this apprenticeship of observation is influential in
shaping preservice teachers ideas about teaching and learning (Ball & Cohen, 1999; Feiman-
Nemser, 1983; Grossman, 1990; Wideen et al., 1998). The lenses through which preservice
teachers make sense of these course and field experiences are shaped by prior knowledge and
experiences (Ball, 1989; Grossman, 1990). Adopting an asset view of teacher education is an
important step in building upon PTs prior experiences to understand the attitudes with which
PTs enter mathematics education coursework, how those attitudes are a reflection of prior
school experiences, and how attitudes change through participation in a mathematics
education course. Regardless of the nature of preservice teachers prior experiences in
mathematics, those experiences can provide an effective backdrop for developing attitudes
towards mathematics teaching and learning aligned with reform recommendations (Drake,
2006; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), 2000). Thus, the goal of this
study was to examine preservice teachers entering attitudes about mathematics teaching and
learning, whether those attitudes change, and the factors that might contribute to any changes
in attitudes. Correspondingly, our research question asked, How do elementary preservice
teachers perceptions of their past schooling and their mathematics methods course influence
their attitudes about the teaching and learning of mathematics?
Feiman-Nemser (1983) asserted that teacher educators often underestimate the effects of
past experiences on PTs and that these effects overshadow the role teacher education plays in
forming PTs attitudes about mathematics teaching and learning. While some (e.g. Wideen et
al., 1998) have argued that the prevailing aim in teacher education is to help PTs learn to
teach in ways that are essentially different from the way they have been taught and from what
they have observed, others (e.g. Ball, 1989) note that it is not necessary to completely change
teachers beliefs about teaching and learning, but to support PTs development, since many
enter the program with beliefs about mathematics teaching that can support student learning.
Our study follows a line of research that has attempted to examine PTs attitudes about the
nature of mathematics and whether they adopt a more reformed view of teaching
mathematics (Ebby, 2000; Eisenhart, Borko, Underhill, Brown, Jones, & Agard, 1993;
McGinnis, Kramer, Roth-McDuffie, & Watanabe, 1998; and MacNab & Payne, 2003).
Mathematics methods courses that expose teachers to reform practices tend to positively
influence PTs attitudes towards mathematics teaching and learning. One approach teacher
educators have taken to understand and build upon PTs prior experiences is to examine their
mathematics autobiographies (Ellsworth & Buss, 2000; Drake, 2006; Harkness, Dambrosio,
& Morrone, 2006). Ellsworth and Buss (2000) found that PTs past teachers had the most

1
We use students to refer specifically to K-12 pupils throughout this paper to avoid confusion with preservice
teachers who are college students.
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 102
salient effect, be it positive or negative, on their attitudes towards mathematics and science.
Harkness et al. (2006) found that PTs were highly motivated in methods courses that focused
on mastery goals by engaging them in problem solving. Harkness et al. (2006) and Drake
(2006) argued that mathematics autobiographies also provided a platform where PTs were
given a voice. Consistent across the aforementioned studies is the perspective that pre-service
teachers attitudes towards mathematics can provide an effective stage for developing
attitudes towards mathematics teaching and learning aligned with reform recommendations.
In addition to coursework, PTs often engage in multiple field experiences (e.g.
observations, practica, internships, student teaching) that provide opportunities for the
evolution of attitudes about mathematics teaching and learning. While universally seen as
valuable, teacher educators and preservice teachers often face the dilemma of bridging the
cultures of the school and the university (Wideen et al., 1998, p. 156). PTs can be
overwhelmed with the practical demands of field experiences which may contribute to
feelings of frustration related to inadequate preparation in their coursework. Despite these
challenges, Feiman-Nemser and Remillard (1995) note that powerful and innovative teacher
preparation can affect the way teachers think about teaching and learning, students, and
subject matter (p. 65). While field experiences can contribute to PTs attitudes about
mathematics, we chose not to include this experience in our analysis for this paper. This was
due to the varied field experiences that would be difficult to examine with a survey. Thus, we
focus primarily on the mathematics methods course.
In the following sections, we describe our methods including the context of the study,
survey instrument, research design, and data analysis. Then we present results from our data
analysis. Lastly, we provide an interpretive summary of the findings and make
recommendations for teacher education and future research.
Methods
Context and Participants
Research was conducted at Hillside College
2
, a private university in the northeastern
United States. The teacher education program offered both a traditional four-year
undergraduate degree and a graduate degree that could be completed in a twelve-month
period. As part of the teacher education program, PTs were required to take one mathematics
methods course. This course was typically taken during the fall semester before student
teaching.
All participants were undergraduate or graduate level preservice elementary school
teachers enrolled in one of four sections of the mathematics methods course. Three professors
taught the four sections of the elementary mathematics methods course. The mathematics
methods courses at this university emphasized a reformed view of teaching mathematics
(NCTM), 2000) where the professors thoughtfully used the NCTM process standards as a
means for teaching the content standards. At least half of the class sessions used manipulative
materials where the professors emphasized a link between concrete models and abstract
mathematics concepts.

2
Pseudonyms are used throughout this study to maintain anonymity.
103 C. Jong & T. Hodges

Participating PTs completed both a pre-survey, which was administered the first week of
the mathematics methods course, and a post-survey, administered during the last week of the
course during the same semester. The pre-survey sought to capture participants entering
attitudes about mathematics and perceived experiences as K-12 students of mathematics. The
purpose of the post-survey was to examine the exiting attitudes about mathematics, practicum
experience, and mathematics methods course experience. The population size was 102 and
the total sample size for those who completed both the pre- and post-surveys was 75, a 73.5%
response rate.
Instrumentation
To develop the pre-survey, we first searched educational research databases for existing
surveys pertaining to the teaching and learning of mathematics, attitudes towards
mathematics, and mathematics methods courses. We gathered 15 existing surveys that
overlapped with the purpose of this study. Then, we examined the surveys, highlighted items
that were possible candidates for the survey, and categorized the items. The pre-survey
included the following four sections about mathematics: attitude and past experiences,
teaching and learning, methods course expectations, and diverse learners. The post-survey
included the following four sections about mathematics: attitudes and practicum experiences,
teaching and learning, diverse learners, and future teaching. Five drafts of the pre-survey
were constructed before the final version was drafted and agreed upon by the three
participating mathematics methods professors. The survey items were on a four-point Likert
scale including: SA = strongly agree, A = Agree, D = Disagree, and SD = strongly disagree.
Thus, some of the figures and tables include the abbreviations of the item responses, such as
SD for strongly disagree. In addition, a fifth option, not applicable, was included for
those who were not enrolled in a practicum or truly had no idea how to response to a
particular item. The fourth and fifth drafts were given to a group of mathematics educators to
pilot, examine, and provide feedback regarding the wording of items and item order. The
post-survey, constructed similarly to the pre-survey, was adapted once the pre-survey was
administered, and a factor analysis was completed. The post-survey included 31 items
identical to those in the pre-survey, except for changes in the stems of the items (see
Appendix for surveys). For example, questions pertaining to topics and strategies taught in
the mathematics methods course on the pre-survey were phrased in terms of what preservice
teachers expected and viewed as important for [them] to learn. The same items were
rephrased for the post-survey to ask whether the methods course taught preservice
teachers a particular strategy such as how to assess student learning in mathematics. The
questions about PTs perceived past experiences were replaced with questions about
practicum experiences. For example, item 3 on the pre-survey stated, I had several positive
experiences with mathematics as a K-8 student. The majority of PTs enrolled in a
mathematics methods course also has a field experience during that semester which consisted
of a weekly school visit for a 10 week period. One of the goals of the post-survey was to
capture these experiences. For example, item 5 on the post-survey stated, My cooperating
teacher used a conceptual method (i.e., problem-solving, open-ended Qs) to teach math.
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 104
The overall factor analysis of the pre-survey accounted for 79.3% of the total variance
among responses. Conceptually, the items fit into seven factors. When the instrument was
forced into seven factors, the analysis accounted for 66.8% of the variance. The rotated
component matrix and conceptual understanding were used to divide the items into seven
factors: 1. Attitude toward mathematics; 2. Negative experiences; 3. Procedural mathematics;
4. Conceptual mathematics; 5. Course expectations; 6. Confidence to teach; and 7. Social
justice. Next, reliability tests for the pre-survey were completed to examine the scales as
indicated by Cronbachs alpha, which examines the internal consistency of the scales within
an instrument. The alpha level for each factor is as follows: 1. attitude toward mathematics (
= .912); 2. negative experiences ( = .780); 3. procedural mathematics ( = .612); 4.
conceptual mathematics ( = .626); 5. course expectations ( = .921); 6. confidence to teach
( = .879); and 7. social justice ( = .648).
The attitudes toward mathematics factor included attitudinal items such as I look
forward to teaching math along with positively worded past experience items. The negative
experiences factor included items that were negatively worded about past experiences such as
I have struggled with math in K-8 along with negatively worded attitude items. The
procedural and conceptual mathematics factors included items about the nature of
mathematics such as Memorizing facts and formulas is essential, to get a sense of PTs
agreement with reform recommendations. The factor on course expectations included items
about what PTs viewed as important to address in the mathematics methods course, such as
how students learn math developmentally. The confidence to teach factor included items
related to teaching mathematics to different types of learning such as being confident to
teach mathematics to English language learners. The factor on social justice include items
about addressing equity in the mathematics classroom such as math can help students
critically analyze the world.
The overall psychometric properties of the instrument were sound. All seven factors had
adequate to high reliability levels (Nunnally, 1978). Two items did not load well onto the
factors where they fit conceptually; thus, we removed them from all analyses. Due to this,
more precise language was used in the post-survey, which defined terms and directly asked
participants whether they planned to teach mathematics in a traditional or conceptual manner.
For example, item 14 stated, I plan on teaching math in a procedural way (facts, skills,
etc). . The post-survey instrument was divided into five factors and had similarly reliable
scales: 1. attitude toward mathematics ( = .709); 2. teaching practices ( = .751); 3.
practicum experiences ( = .696); 4. methods course experiences ( = .893); and 5.
confidence to teach ( = .888). The attitudes toward mathematics factor included all
attitudinal items as the pre-survey. The teaching practices factor included all the nature of
mathematics items, similar to the procedural and conceptual mathematics factors. The
practicum and methods course experiences factors included items related to field and course
experiences such as I had a positive practicum experience and my mathematics methods
course focused on how to assess student learning. The confidence to teach factor included
the same items as the pre-survey to get a sense of any changes.
In addition to the pre- and post-surveys, which were administered during the first and last
weeks of the semester course, observations of one section of the mathematics methods course
were conducted and course artifacts (e.g. syllabi, assignments, and assessments) were
105 C. Jong & T. Hodges

collected to provide contextual information related to survey and observation data associated
with the mathematics methods courses. However, this paper solely focuses on the survey
data.
Data Analysis
Survey data analyses were carried out with SPSS, a software package used for organizing
data, conducting statistical analyses, and generating tables and graphs that summarize data.
Our data analysis involved several steps. First, descriptive statistics were applied to analyze
overall item response percentages and note any possible trends in responses. Then, we used
correlations to examine the relationships among perceived past experiences, field
experiences, the mathematics methods course, attitudes about mathematics education, and
confidence to teach. Paired t-tests were then completed to compare the differences in
preservice teachers attitudes and perceived level of preparation between the pre- and post-
surveys. Lastly, a multiple regression model was created to examine how perceived past
schooling experiences and the mathematics methods course accounted for preservice
teachers a) attitude towards mathematics and b) perceived level of preparation to teach
mathematics.
Results
Considering the influence past experiences have on PTs conceptions of teaching and the
desire of teacher education programs to help shape these conceptions (Ball, 1990; Cady,
Meier, & Lubinski, 2006; Lortie, 1975; Scott, 2005), we became interested in responses on
three unique items on the post-survey that directly asked preservice teachers about the
perceived impact of their past K-8 schooling, practicum, and mathematics methods course on
their future teaching practices (see Figure 1). The results across all three were similar,
suggesting that PTs perceptions of the role past schooling played in their future instructional
practices aligned with findings from prior research (Ellsworth & Buss, 2000; Drake, 2006;
Harkness, Dambrosio, & Morrone, 2006). The percentages were based on the total n of 75 to
avoid an inflated percent due to missing data. The stem for the three items stated, The
following will have a major impact on the way I teach math in the future. The PTs were then
asked to respond to this statement specifically about their past K-8 schooling, practicum, and
mathematics methods course experiences on a four-point Likert scale, from strongly agree
(SA) to strongly disagree (SD).

Figure 1. Elements influencing preservice teachers anticipated practices by percentages
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
SA A D SD
Past
Schooling
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 106
To further examine the relationship between PTs attitudes and items related to prior
schooling experiences, bivariate two-tailed Pearsons correlations were run at the 0.05 and
0.01 alpha levels. Table 1 displays results from the analyses among items pertaining to these
topics on the pre-survey. All correlations were significant at the 0.01 alpha level, indicating
very strong linear relationships between attitudes towards mathematics, experiences in
mathematics, and confidence in their ability to teach mathematics.
Table 1
Relationships among attitudes and prior schooling experiences in mathematics
Pre-Survey Items 2 3 4 5 6
1. Positive math attitude .599** .719** .713** .661** .553**
2. Positive K-8 math .539** .526** .455** .368**
3. Positive 9-12 math .599** .508** .440**
4. Perceived Proficiency in
math
.563** .585**
5. Looking forward to teaching
math
.504**
6. Confidence in ability
** Correlation is significant at the p < 0.01 level (2-tailed)
To examine the relationships among preservice teachers experiences in the mathematics
methods course, attitudes about mathematics, anticipated approaches to teaching
mathematics, and perceived preparation, bivariate two-tailed Pearsons correlations were run
at the .05 alpha level. Table 2 displays results from the analyses among items pertaining to
these topics on the post-survey. Results indicated a moderate positive relationship between
participants who had a more positive attitude towards mathematics and whether they learned
a variety of strategies in the mathematics methods course (r = .273, p < .05), planned to teach
mathematics in a conceptual manner (r = .326, p < .01), planned to require their students to
memorize facts (r = .274, p < .05), and agreed that the mathematics methods course would
have a major impact on their future teaching (r = .268, p < .05). Preservice teachers who
indicated that they learned a variety of strategies in the methods course showed an increased:
desire to teach mathematics (r = .371, p < .01), confidence (r = .277, p < .05), and belief that
the course would have an impact on their teaching practice (r = .440, p < .01). An increased
agreement that the mathematics methods course would have an impact on teaching practices
was also significantly related to an increase in looking forward to teaching mathematics (r =
.360, p < .01) and confidence (r = .291, p < .05). Participants level of confidence was also
associated with whether they would encourage students to use multiple strategies (r = .279, p
< .05), a characteristic of teaching with a conceptual focus.

107 C. Jong & T. Hodges

Table 2
Relationships among attitudes and the mathematics methods course experiences
Post-Survey Items 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1. Positive math
attitude
.273* .306** .794** .566** .326** .168 .066 .274* .268*
2. Learned a variety
of strategies
.192 .371**

.277* .149 .043 .142 -.013

.440**
3. Prepared to teach
math


.397**

.438**

.139

-.149

.227*

.047

.210

4. Looking forward
to teaching math
.711**

.311**

.011

.140

.061

.360**

5. Confident in
ability


.412**

0.031

.279*

.137

.291*

6. Teach conceptual
Math


.275*

.382**

.155

.014

7. Teach procedural
Math


.051

.601**

-.083

8. Encourage
multiple strategies
.016

.119

9. Require students
to memorize facts
-.109

10. Methods course,
major impact

* Correlation is significant at the p < 0.05 level (2-tailed)
** Correlation is significant at the p < 0.01 level (2-tailed)
Results showed that whether PTs planned to teach in a conceptual manner related to
whether they would encourage students to use multiple strategies (r = .382, p < .01). This
positive relationship was stronger for those who planned to teach mathematics in a procedural
manner and planned to require their students to memorize facts (r = .601, p < .01). These
findings suggest that preservice teachers were familiar with characteristics commonly
associated with both approaches to teaching mathematics. A relationship between preservice
teachers plans to teach with both approaches was not surprising; there can be overlap among
strategies to teach mathematics where both conceptual and procedural knowledge are valued.
While examining relationships among items is interesting, it is also important to extend
analyses beyond correlations to further examine preservice teachers attitudes.
Paired t-tests
Paired t-tests were conducted to determine significant differences in the mathematics
attitude and confidence to teach over the course of the semester (see Table 3). The paired t-
test was carried out with a two-tailed 95% confidence interval. Results indicated that PTs in
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 108
the mathematics methods courses had statistically significant positive changes in their
attitudes towards mathematics. They also became significantly more confident in their overall
ability to teach mathematics.
Table 3
Overall statistically significant differences on pre- and post-survey results
Item Mean (pre to post) Test Results
Positive attitude towards math 2.076 to 2.280 t= 3.401, p < .01
Confident in ability to be a good math teacher 1.932 to 2.139 t= 3.110, p < .01
To examine preservice teachers anticipated teaching practices, we analyzed responses to
two items on the post-survey: I plan on teaching math in a conceptual way (for
understanding, problem-solving)and I plan on teaching math in a procedural way (facts,
skills, etc). Figure 2 shows participants responses to these two items by percentages.
Results indicated that 100% of PTs teachers strongly agreed or agreed that they planned to
teach mathematics in a conceptual way. In contrast, only about 70% strongly agreed or
agreed that they planned to teach mathematics in a procedural way. Paired t-tests showed a
statistically significant difference (p <.001) between PTs responses to the two items in favor
of a conceptual teaching method.

Figure 2. Participants planned approaches to teaching mathematics by percentages
Another finding showed that approximately 80% of preservice teachers strongly agreed or
agreed that: As a K-8 student, I mostly learned mathematics in a traditional manner (i.e.,
textbooks, worksheets, rules, lectures). However, the majority also disagreed or strongly
disagreed with the following statement: I want to teach mathematics the same way I learned
it. There was a statistically significant difference in responses to the two items (p <.0001),
indicating that preservice teachers wanted to teach mathematics in a way that was different
from the way they learned it.
Regression Analyses
Ordinary least squares (OLS) hierarchical regression was completed to investigate the
extent to which past schooling experiences and the mathematics methods courses accounted
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
SA A D SD
Conceptual
Procedural
109 C. Jong & T. Hodges

for preservice teachers attitudes about teaching mathematics and their perceived preparation
to teach mathematics. The prep_lookforward served as the outcome variable. This variable
was computed by taking the mean of responses from items I am prepared to teach and I
look forward to teaching. The two items were selected because they provided a sense of
preservice teachers attitude and preparation to teach mathematics. The responses from the
two items were divided by two so the outcome variable was on 4-point scale, consistent with
the predictor variables. For the multiple regression model, the predictor variables were
entered as follows: positive K-8 math as the first predictor and math course strategies next.
First we entered positive K-8 math into the model; research suggests that perceptions on prior
schooling can have a strong influence on teachers due to their countless hours spent as
students observing their own teachers (Ball, 1989; Ellsworth & Buss, 2000; Lortie, 1975).
Participants also spent more time as K-8 students than as student teachers. Next math course
strategies was entered because the mathematics methods course was specifically designed to
prepare preservice teachers to teach mathematics, whereas teaching mathematics may not be
a focus of the practicum (Ebby, 2000). Following a confirmatory approach, we hypothesized
that the variation found in preservice teachers perceptions of preparation and anticipation to
teach mathematics after being in the mathematics methods course for one semester could be
explained in terms of the aforementioned variables. In statistical terms, the hypotheses were
expressed as:
0
0
8
8 0
=
= =
math positiveK a
math positiveK
H
H


0
0
0
=
= =
strats mathcourse a
strats mathcourse
H
H

.
The significance level was set at the 0.05 two-tailed level. Prior to running this model, the
individual influence each predictor variable had on its own was examined, as described next.
Single Predictors
Before constructing the multiple regression models, two simple regression models were
carried out to examine the amount of variance of each predictor variable accounted for in
prep_lookforward. Table 4 shows a summary of each of the regression statistics and its
significance. The two predictors accounted for a significant portion of the prep_lookforward
on their own (p < .01). Positive K-8 math alone accounted for 12.5% of the variance in the
outcome variable (R
2
= .125, F = 10.45, p < .01); the predictor variable math course
strategies alone explained 12.3% of the variance in prep_lookforward (R
2
= .123, F = 10.23,
p < .01).
Table 4
Simple regression statistics (Prep_lookforward as outcome variable)
Predictor Variable R Square Adjusted R
Square
Unstnd.
Coefficient
Standardized Coefficient F-value Sig.

Positive K-8 Math

.125 .113 .457 .354 10.45 .002
Math Course
Strategies
.123 .111 .789 .351 10.23 .002
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 110
Multiple Regression Model with Two Predictors
The overall regression of prep_lookforward on positive K-8 math and math course
strategies was statistically significant [R
2
= .208, F (2, 75) = 9.441, p< .001]. Overall, the
variance explained by the two predictors differed significantly from zero; thus, we rejected
the null. Table 5 shows the overall model summary and significance levels. This model had a
higher F-value and was statistically significant. The positive K-8 math variable accounted for
approximately 12.5% of the variance in prep_lookforward, while math course strategies
accounted for an additional 8.3% of the variance. Taken together, the predictor variables
could explain approximately 20.8% of the variance of prep_lookforward. Although the model
was significant, nearly 80% of the variance was unaccounted for in prep_lookforward, which
supports the argument that a multitude of variables influence preservice teachers attitudes
and preparation to teach mathematics. The unstandardized coefficients of the model were
.192 for positive K-8 math and .330 for math course strategies. The regression solution for
this model was:
strats mathcourse math positiveK
d preplookfw X X Y 330 . 0 192 . 0 942 . 0
8
+ + =

.
Similar to the first model, this means that if both predictor variables had a value of 0, there
would be a predicted prep_lookforward score of 0.942. However, a value of 0 is not possible.
Table 5
Model summary and significance of two predictors
Predictors R
2
R
2
F P DW
1. Positive K-8 Math .125 .125 10.447 .002
2. Positive K-8 Math
Math Course
Strategies
.208 .083 9.441 .000 2.164
Note: Dependent Variable (constant): Prep_lookforward to teach Math
The values indicated that with every increased rating in positive K-8 math there was
almost a 0.192 increase (i.e. 1= .192, 2= .384) in prep_lookforward and approximately a .330
increase with increased ratings in math course strategies. Using the same example as the first
model, a participant who agreed to the two items on the survey would have a predicted
prep_lookforward score of 2.508 = .942 + (.192 x 3) + (.330 x 3). One who agreed to the
two items would yield an approximate score of 2.51 on prep_lookforward, indicating greater
feelings of preparation and anticipation to teach mathematics than one without positive
experiences and with a response of disagree, or a baseline outcome score of one out of four.
The Durbin-Watson statistic for this model was 2.164. The DW obtained was higher than
the upper limit of 1.68; therefore, we failed to reject the null or to accept
0
H and conclude
that there was no statistically significant autocorrelation in our regression model. Results
indicated that multicollinearity was at a minimum because the tolerance was a .962 when the
second predictor variable was added. Similarly, the Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) was
1.039 with two predictors, indicating a small amount of multicollinearity. Multicollinearity
occurs when two variables are related; thus, it is important to keep it at a minimum when
111 C. Jong & T. Hodges

creating regression models. To evaluate the effect size of the regression model, we computed
a post-hoc power analysis. The model with two predictors (see Table 5) had a very high level
of power (1 - = 0.97) with a medium effect size (f
2
= 0.26) at the alpha level of .05. The
next section situates survey results within the literature to consider implications.
Discussion
Our research question stated, How do preservice elementary teachers perceptions of their
past schooling and their mathematics methods course influence their attitudes about the
teaching and learning of mathematics? Results from the survey showed several statistically
significant positive relationships among preservice teachers attitudes towards mathematics,
confidence to teach mathematics, and the two predicting variables: perceived past schooling
and the mathematics methods course. While the paired t-tests showed a significant difference in
favor of participants planning to teach mathematics with a conceptual approach, there were
significant correlations between conceptual and procedural approaches, implying some overlap
in the way in which participants responded to the two approaches. Regression models
confirmed that past schooling experiences and the mathematics methods course were influential
in predicting a significant portion of preservice teachers preparation and attitude toward
teaching mathematics.
Descriptive statistics from the post-survey showed that more than 80% of participants
perceived their prior schooling and the mathematics methods course experiences as having a
major impact on their anticipated teaching practices. The multiple regression model
confirmed that the two variables accounted for a significant proportion of preservice teachers
perceived level of preparation and their attitude towards teaching mathematics. Nevertheless,
the two factors combined accounted for only 20.8% of the desired outcome variable including
preservice teachers looking forward to teaching mathematics and viewing themselves as
prepared. Thus, other factors beyond those in our model account for almost 80% of PTs
preparation to teach mathematics and attitudes about teaching mathematics. In this section we
present an interpretive summary of the two main themes from our data.
Evolution of Attitudes
Findings indicated a strong relationship between PTs attitudes about mathematics and
their prior schooling experiences. A positive increase in participants attitudes towards
mathematics was related to positive perceptions of experiences in K-8 prior schooling (r =
.599, p < .01) and to high school (r = .719, p < .01). Although both experiences had positive
relationships with PTs attitudes, their high school experiences in mathematics had a greater
shared variance with their attitudes, suggesting that high school experiences in mathematics
may have a stronger influence on PTs attitudes. We conjecture that at the high school level,
mathematical content becomes more challenging and those with a more positive experience
were more likely to have experienced success in mathematics courses. Similarly, an increased
response to perceived proficiency in mathematics had a strong positive relationship with
attitude towards mathematics (r = .713, p < .01). In addition, participants perceived
proficiency was related to both their perceived prior K-8 (r = .526, p < .01) and high school (r
= .599, p < .01) experiences in mathematics. Thus, correlation results indicated that those
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 112
with more positive prior schooling experiences had more positive attitudes towards
mathematics and considered themselves as more proficient. These findings are consistent
with findings from a qualitative study conducted by Ellsworth and Buss (2000), who
examined preservice teachers attitudes towards mathematics by analyzing their
autobiographies. They found that past teaching models was the most salient theme because
preservice teachers commonly reported that their interest in or attitude towards mathematics
was positively or negatively affected by past teachers. However, elsewhere we have reported
PTs with relatively negative experiences in K-12 mathematics demonstrate significant gains
in attitudes over the duration of mathematics methods coursework (Hodges, Jong, & Royal,
2013). Consequently, by bringing past experiences to the surface, preservice teachers may be
more cognizant of how their own attitudes about mathematics are affected.
Attitudes about mathematics can also influence preservice teachers own confidence to
teach mathematics. Bursal and Paznokas (2006) suggest that PTs with more positive attitudes
towards mathematics also had greater confidence in their own ability to teach mathematics. In
addition, findings from paired t-tests indicated that preservice teachers had a significant
increase in both their attitude towards mathematics and confidence to teach mathematics over
the course of the semester. These results suggest that positive changes in PTs attitudes and
confidence can begin to grow over a semester long mathematics methods course. The
findings differed from those of Vinson, Haynes, Brasher, Sloan, & Gresham (1997), who
compared PTs mathematics anxiety before and after taking methods courses emphasizing the
use of manipulative materials. Pre- and multiple post-survey results indicated no significant
difference in the mathematics anxiety scale after the first quarter of classes in the fall;
however, significant differences showing a reduction of mathematics anxiety were evident
after the winter, spring, and summer quarter classes. Thus, although immediate changes
cannot always be detected, attitudes might be affected over time by learning opportunities in
the mathematics methods course.
Data suggested that preservice teachers who learned mathematics in a traditional manner
would like to teach it differently than the way in which they were taught. However, the desire
to teach in a reformed manner can be difficult to put into practice. Rasmussen and
Marrongelle (2006) argue that teaching in a manner consistent with NCTM reform
recommendations may be overwhelming for teachers, because part of the challenge includes
the ability to understand students thinking and use it to develop mathematical ideas. This can
be a struggle for beginning teachers, who in most cases already have feelings of uncertainty
about their teaching, due to their limited classroom experience. In addition, prior to teaching
in a reformed manner, a teacher must value the classroom characteristics of reformed
teaching and have explicit reformed goals as a part of their classroom practice (Remillard &
Bryans, 2004).
Influential Factors
It is particularly important to acknowledge that preservice teachers enter teacher education
programs with a wealth of knowledge from their prior schooling. Although in some cases, the
goal of a course is to change or challenge entering assumptions about the role of teaching,
PTs can also have positive perspectives about teaching upon which complementary ideas can
113 C. Jong & T. Hodges

be built. Mathematics methods courses could be built upon PTs entering attitudes, which
could be more positive and fertile than expected. While the mathematics methods courses
observed in this study did not appear to have an overt agenda or strategy to build upon PTs
past experiences, questions were raised about their view of the teaching and learning of
mathematics. As the instructors taught methods for different mathematics topics such as
multi-digit subtraction, PTs would use the standard algorithms in many cases and connect
their prior knowledge about the procedure with concrete materials. It would have been
interesting for PTs to explicitly compare different strategies and discuss the benefits of
alternative algorithms.
While the two experiences we focused on, perceived prior schooling experiences and the
mathematics methods course, can be of great importance in preparing elementary teachers to
teach mathematics, our study found that the two only accounted for 20% of the variance of
preparation to teach mathematics. This suggests that past experiences that we often try to
work with may not account for as much as we thought. While past experiences are important,
they might play a smaller part than we expect. We suggest that explicit efforts still be made in
the mathematics methods courses to connect to PTs prior knowledge, in the same way that
teacher educators encourage PTs to build upon students prior knowledge. Many scholars
have made a strong case for the importance of adopting an asset model by using students
prior experiences as resources (Cochran-Smith, 1999, 2004; Darling-Hammond, French, &
Garcia-Lopez, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1995). In addition, there are many factors that need to
be explored over time, such as field experiences, student teaching, mentors, family members
who are educators, peers, mathematics methods course designs, and mathematics content
courses, which could potentially influence changes in participants attitudes and confidence.
Our survey results suggest that PTs had an ideological stance in favor of conceptual
approaches to teaching mathematics. If the goal is for teachers to adopt practices that
emphasize a conceptual understanding of mathematics, meaningful teacher learning
experiences need to foster such attitudes along with exposing teachers multiple strategies that
can be implemented in the classroom. Harkness et al. (2006) suggested that mathematics
methods courses should provide opportunities for PTs to engage in meaningful problem
solving tasks to make sense of the mathematics and make connections to improve upon their
future practices.
Recommendations for Future Research
Preservice teachers prior schooling experiences influence their attitudes towards
mathematics and perceptions of the teaching and learning of mathematics. Thus, it is
important that teacher educators learn about PTs entering attitudes and perceptions in order
to create learning experiences that connect their prior knowledge to new ideas. Although
several scholars have argued that beginning teachers socialization into teaching takes place
when they are students (Ball, 1989; Grossman, 1990; Peker & Mirasyedioglu, 2008; Scott,
2005; Wideen et al., 1998), more empirical work that explores the extent to which past
experiences influence preservice teachers is needed. This study explored that issue as it
pertains to mathematics teacher education and showed that perceived past experiences only
accounted for 12.5% of the explained variance in PTs attitudes and confidence to teach
PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 114
mathematics. We believe that this could actually be a very encouraging finding. While past
schooling experiences are a significant factor and need to be taking into consideration, there
are many additional factors that account for and influence teachers attitudes. Thus, providing
teachers with meaningful mathematics experiences in methods courses, supportive field
experiences, and continued professional development may have the potential to account for a
greater portion of teachers attitudes and confidence to teach mathematics.
Given that much of the influence on teachers attitudes toward mathematics teaching and
learning lie beyond prior experiences and methods courses, research is needed on other
possible contributing factors in the attitudes and practices that PTs develop over time. Future
research should follow PTs longitudinally across teacher education programs and their entry
into the profession. In this study, the pre- and post-surveys were confined to one semester-
long mathematics methods courses in one university. Based on the factor analysis, the
instrument also had room for improvement, as surveys do not fully capture the variables of
interest due to self-reporting and restricted Likert-scales. Multiple data sites over time and
across institutions would allow for stronger comparisons. In addition to survey results,
qualitative interviews that elaborate on these experiences would help us further investigate
preservice teachers attitudes.
Acknowledgements
An earlier concise version of this paper was published in the Proceedings of the 33rd
Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the
Psychology of Mathematics Education. Reno, NV: University of Nevada, Reno.
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117 C. Jong & T. Hodges

Authors
Cindy Jong, Assistant Professor, Department of STEM Education, University of
Kentucky, 105 Taylor Education Building, Lexington, KY 40506, USA;
cindy.jong@uky.edu
Thomas E. Hodges, Assistant Professor, Department of Instruction and Teacher
Education, University of South Carolina, Wardlaw 105, Columbia, SC 29208,
USA; hodgeste@sc.edu
APPENDIX A - Mathematics Education Pre-Survey
Using the scale 1=Strongly Agree, 2=Agree, 3=Disagree, 4=Strongly Disagree, or 5=Not Applicable (if
you absolutely do not know or the item does not apply to you), please respond to the following statements about
mathematics.
Attitude and Past Experiences
S A A D S D NA
1. I like mathematics.
1 2 3 4 5
2. I enjoy solving mathematical problems that challenge me to
think.
1 2 3 4 5
3. I had several positive experiences with mathematics as a K-8
student.
1 2 3 4 5
4. I had several positive experiences with mathematics as a 9-12
student.
1 2 3 4 5
5. I am proficient in mathematics. 1 2 3 4 5
6. Mathematics is one of my favorite subjects. 1 2 3 4 5
7. I think mathematics is boring. 1 2 3 4 5
8. I have struggled with mathematics as a K-8 student. 1 2 3 4 5
9. I have struggled with mathematics as a 9-12 student. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I used hands-on materials to learn mathematics in either
elementary, middle school, or high school.
1 2 3 4 5
11. The way mathematics is taught today is different from the way I
learned it as a K-8 student.
1 2 3 4 5
12. The way mathematics is taught today is different from the way I
learned it as a 9-12 student.
1 2 3 4 5
13. As a K-8 student, I mostly learned mathematics in a traditional
manner (i.e. textbooks, worksheets, rules, lectures).
1 2 3 4 5
14. As a 9-12 student, I mostly learned mathematics in a traditional
manner (i.e. textbooks, worksheets, rules, lectures).
1 2 3 4 5


PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 118
Teaching and Learning
SA A D SD N/A
15. I am looking forward to teaching mathematics.

1 2 3 4 5
16. It is important to incorporate the use of technologies (e.g.
calculators, computers) when teaching mathematics.
1 2 3 4 5
17. Using mathematics is essential to the every day life of K-12
students.
1 2 3 4 5
18. I want to teach mathematics the same way I learned it.

1 2 3 4 5
19. I am confident in my ability to be a good mathematics teacher.

1 2 3 4 5
20. I plan to use hands-on materials to help my students learn
mathematics and solve problems.
1 2 3 4 5
21. Memorizing facts and formulas is essential to learn mathematics.
1 2 3 4 5
22. I will allow and encourage students to solve mathematical
problems in more than one way.
1 2 3 4 5
23. I plan on integrating mathematics with different subjects (i.e.
science, literature, social studies).
1 2 3 4 5
24. I am scared of teaching mathematics.

1 2 3 4 5
Methods Course Expectations
It is important for me to learn
SA A D SD NA
25. a variety of instructional strategies. 1 2 3 4 5
26. how to use technologies (i.e. calculators, computers) in
mathematics classrooms.
1 2 3 4 5
27. how students learn mathematics developmentally (i.e. age, grade
level).
1 2 3 4 5
28. how to use hands-on materials to teach mathematical concepts. 1 2 3 4 5
29. about national mathematics standards and state frameworks. 1 2 3 4 5
30. how to teach mathematics to a diverse student population. 1 2 3 4 5
31. how to assess student learning in mathematics. 1 2 3 4 5
32. about the role of standardized tests in mathematics. 1 2 3 4 5
33. about different mathematics curriculums used by districts across
the nation.
1 2 3 4 5
34. how to manage the mathematics classroom effectively (i.e.
behaviors, grouping, transitions).
1 2 3 4 5
35. how to integrate mathematics with science. 1 2 3 4 5
36. how to integrate mathematics with literature. 1 2 3 4 5
37. about a variety of mathematics games that can be used in the
classroom.
1 2 3 4 5


119 C. Jong & T. Hodges

Diverse Learners
SA A D SD NA
38. I am confident in teaching mathematics to high achievers. 1 2 3 4 5
39. I am confident in teaching to students who do not have English
as their primary language.
1 2 3 4 5
40. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students with special
needs.
1 2 3 4 5
41. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students of different
ethnic/racial/cultural backgrounds.
1 2 3 4 5
42. Social justice plays an important role in the teaching and
learning of mathematics.
1 2 3 4 5
43. Most students (who do not have severe special needs) can be
successful at learning mathematics.
1 2 3 4 5
44. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students in an Urban
school.
1 2 3 4 5
45. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students in a
Suburban school.
1 2 3 4 5
46. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students in a Rural
school.
1 2 3 4 5
47. Mathematics can help students critically analyze the world. 1 2 3 4 5
48. Issues about equity should be addressed in the mathematics
classroom.
1 2 3 4 5
Background Information
1. Gender: Male________ Female________
2. Degree: ______________________________ 3. Current Year:____________________
4. Major: _______________________________ Minor: ___________________________
5. If you are a Graduate Student, Undergraduate Major:______________________________
6. Course Professor:_________________________ Time: ___________________________
7. Number of Math Content Courses Taken at the College Level: ______________________
8. Future Teaching Plans (check all that apply):
Suburban_________ Urban_________ Rural_________
Public_________ Private_________ Religious__________
Grade(s): ___________ Subject(s): ___________________________________________
9. Describe your ethnicity. ____________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
10. How long have you (and your family) been in the U.S.A.?
Generation: 1
st
________ 2
nd
_________ 3
rd
_________ 4+ _________
11. Mothers highest level of Education: _________________________________________
Occupation: _____________________________________________________________
12. Fathers highest level of Education: __________________________________________
Occupation: _____________________________________________________________
13. Describe your previous teaching experience (if any).
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________

PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 120
APPENDIX B - Mathematics Education Post-Survey
Using the scale 1=Strongly Agree, 2=Agree, 3=Disagree, 4=Strongly Disagree, or 5=Not
Applicable (if you absolutely do not know or the item does not apply to you), please respond
to the following statements about mathematics.
Attitude and Practicum Experiences
S A A D S D NA
1. I like mathematics. 1 2 3 4 n/a
2. I had a positive practicum experience. 1 2 3 4 n/a
3. My cooperating teacher contributed greatly to my knowledge
about the teaching and learning of mathematics.
1 2 3 4 n/a
4. My cooperating teacher used a traditional method (i.e. textbooks,
lectures, worksheets, rules) to teach math.
1 2 3 4 n/a
5. My cooperating teacher used a conceptual method (i.e. problem-
solving, open-ended Qs) to teach math.
1 2 3 4 n/a
6. The math curriculum used in my practicum focused on teaching
math in a conceptual manner.
1 2 3 4 n/a
7. The math curriculum used in my practicum focused on teaching
math in a traditional manner.
1 2 3 4 n/a
8. My practicum experience connected to my math methods course. 1 2 3 4 n/a
9. My practicum experience reinforced what I learned in my math
methods course.
1 2 3 4 n/a
10. My practicum placement had a diverse student population. 1 2 3 4 n/a
11. I think math is boring. 1 2 3 4 n/a

Teaching and Learning
SA A D SD NA
12. I am looking forward to teaching mathematics. 1 2 3 4 n/a
13. I plan on incorporating the use of technologies (e.g. calculators,
computers, software) when teaching mathematics.
1 2 3 4 n/a
14. I plan on teaching math in a procedural way (facts, skills, etc). 1 2 3 4 n/a
15. I plan on teaching math in a conceptual way (for understanding,
problem-solving).
1 2 3 4 n/a
16. I am confident in my ability to be a good mathematics teacher. 1 2 3 4 n/a
17. I plan to use manipulatives (hands-on materials) to help my
students learn mathematics and solve problems.
1 2 3 4 n/a
18. I will require my students to memorize mathematical facts and
formulas.
1 2 3 4 n/a
19. I will allow and encourage students to solve math problems in
more than one way.
1 2 3 4 n/a
20. I plan on integrating mathematics with different subjects (i.e.
science, literature, social studies).
1 2 3 4 n/a
21. I am scared of teaching mathematics.

1 2 3 4 n/a
22. I am prepared to teach mathematics. 1 2 3 4 n/a


121 C. Jong & T. Hodges

Methods Course Evaluation
The math methods course taught me
SA A D SD NA
23. a variety of instructional strategies. 1 2 3 4 n/a
24. how to use technologies (i.e. calculators, computers) in
mathematics classrooms.
1 2 3 4 n/a
25. how students learn mathematics developmentally (i.e. age, grade
level).
1 2 3 4 n/a
26. how to use manipulatives (hands-on materials) to teach
mathematical concepts.
1 2 3 4 n/a
27. about national mathematics standards and state frameworks. 1 2 3 4 n/a
28. how to teach mathematics to a diverse student population. 1 2 3 4 n/a
29. how to assess student learning in mathematics. 1 2 3 4 n/a
30. about the role of standardized tests in mathematics. 1 2 3 4 n/a
31. about different mathematics curriculums used by districts across
the nation.
1 2 3 4 n/a
32. how to manage the mathematics classroom effectively (i.e.
behaviors, grouping, transitions).
1 2 3 4 n/a
33. how to integrate mathematics with science. 1 2 3 4 n/a
34. how to integrate mathematics with literature. 1 2 3 4 n/a
35. about a variety of mathematics games that can be used in the
classroom.
1 2 3 4 n/a
36. theories about the teaching and learning of mathematics. 1 2 3 4 n/a
Diverse Learners

SA A D SD
NA

37. I am confident in teaching mathematics to high achievers.

1 2 3 4 n/a
38. I am confident in teaching to students who do not have English
as their primary language.
1 2 3 4 n/a
39. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students with special
needs.
1 2 3 4 n/a
40. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students of different
ethnic/racial/cultural backgrounds.
1 2 3 4 n/a
41. I think social justice plays an important role in the teaching and
learning of mathematics.
1 2 3 4 n/a
42. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students in an Urban
school.
1 2 3 4 n/a
43. I am confident in teaching mathematics to students in a
Suburban school.
1 2 3 4 n/a
44. I think issues about equity should be addressed in the
mathematics classroom.
1 2 3 4 n/a


PSTS MATHEMATICS EXPERIENCES AND ATTITUDES 122
Future Teaching
The following will have a major impact on the way I teach
mathematics in the future:
SA A D SD NA
45. My past K-8 school experiences 1 2 3 4 n/a
46. My past 9-12 school experiences 1 2 3 4 n/a
47. Practicum experiences 1 2 3 4 n/a
48. Math methods course 1 2 3 4 n/a

Background Information
Practicum
1. Grade level:____________________
Secondary, please specify content area(s)____________________________________
2. Setting: Urban_________ Suburban__________
3. Public __________ Private (religious)__________ Private (nonreligious)__________
4. Math Curriculum used by Cooperating Teacher
_______________________________