Mentoring Pre-Service Elementary Teachers in Mathematics Teaching
Concern with primary teachers’ content knowledge in mathematics and science has been extensively documented in the literature. Efforts to improve such knowledge require engaging students through new teaching and learning. One such action has been the development of a Foundations Unit, Scientific and Quantitative Literacy, for all first year pre-service primary teacher education students at Queensland University of Technology and the use of mentoring pre-service teachers’ practical experiences with particular attention to mathematical and scientific components of their teaching. The unit and the approach taken has also been adopted by two Education Institutes in Malaysia in a joint Australia/Malaysia venture in which the unit is taught in English, the second language of the Malaysian students. The study explores and describes the perceptions of 147 Australian pre-service teachers, all of whom have completed the new integrated Foundations Unit, with regards to practices of mentors in primary mathematics education. The study initially aims to determine the transferability of a science mentoring instrument to the development of an instrument for mentoring pre-service teachers in primary mathematics teaching. It also aims to articulate existing mentoring practices, content knowledge and confidence in primary mathematics education linked to this instrument. New teaching and learning practices include writing a reflective journal in the Foundations unit and reflecting on mentoring practices in their practical work. This study focuses on the latter of these two. The mentoring focused on a five-factor model; Personal Attributes, System Requirements, Pedagogical Knowledge, Modelling, and Feedback. A survey instrument was then developed which included a component of the perceived mathematical content knowledge and confidence with mathematics of the mentors. It is anticipated that the study will contribute to the evaluation of the effectiveness of these new teaching and learning practices. Further possible actions and outcomes that relate to the theme of engaging diversity will be the evaluation of the effectiveness of adapting the unit to the Malaysian context.