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ERIC Number: ED572118
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 247
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3397-6093-3
A Study of Pre-Service Elementary Teachers' Mathematical Sophistication in a Reform-Oriented Calculus Course
Ritter, Carrie Lineberry
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Calls for better preparation of STEM teachers have been prominent in educational communities and among the public for the past several years (e.g. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2007). Some research suggests one way to improve mathematics instruction is to increase elementary pre-service teachers' "mathematical sophistication" (Szydlik, Kuennen, and Seaman, 2009). Elementary teachers may lack the mathematical sophistication needed to understand mathematics from an advanced perspective, thus limiting their abilities to create fundamental mathematical understanding for students. The current study answered the following research questions: (1) How does pre-service elementary teachers' mathematical sophistication change as they participate in a reform-oriented calculus course?; and (2) What experiences do pre-service elementary teachers have during a reform-oriented calculus course that support their growth in mathematical sophistication? It used a mixed methods approached to collect and analyze three sets of data: the pre- and post-administration of Seaman and Szydlik's (2009) Mathematical Sophistication Instrument (MSI), nine semi-structured, one-on-one pre- and post-interviews including two tasks, and artifacts from three cognitively challenging tasks (paced throughout the calculus course). The data came from 33 students in a specialized calculus for elementary teachers course. Results show that participation in a reform oriented calculus course has a positive effect on students' mathematical sophistication. All students showed improvement in their mathematical sophistication throughout the course, yet the results were not statistically significant. The most positive gain was for students who scored the lowest on the pre-MSI at the beginning of the course. Three of the MSF actions showed the most improvement throughout the duration of the course: definitions, justification and understanding, and precise language and fine distinctions about language. Limited research on how to improve elementary teachers' lack of mathematical sophistication exists. This study opens the doors and shows the value of inquiry-based learning with the use of high-level tasks on students' mathematical sophistication. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A