Details of Thesis

TitleNumber Sense or No Sense: Pre-service teachers learning the mathematics they are required to teach
Author Hanrahan, Frances M
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2002
Abstract As a result of two years working with the pre-service primary teachers in a College in Fiji I became aware of the difficulty many of the students were having understanding the primary school mathematics they would be required to teach. During that time I had attempted to help them overcome the difficulties by using different teaching approaches and activities but was far from satisfied with my efforts. Hence I decided to make a concerted effort to help the students by planning, implementing and partially evaluating a mathematics education unit, known as the Teaching Program for the first semester of their course. This work formed the basis of my study. For the Teaching Program I chose a constructivist teaching approach with number sense as the underlying theme. To examine the aspects of the Program I used my observations and those of the students especially ones reported in their mathematics journals. To evaluate the effectiveness of the Teaching Program I collected and analysed quantitative data from traditional testing of the class of forty students as well as data from case studies of six of the pre-service teachers in the class. To determine what features of the Teaching Program were linked to positive changes my main source of data was the case studies, especially entries from their journal writings. The findings suggested that a significant development of the cognitive aspects of the students’ number sense did occur during the time of the Teaching Program but not as much as was hoped for. As a result of the analysis of the data I came to a greater realisation of the importance of the non-cognitive aspects of number sense and the necessity for a greater consideration of them in the development of a Program. I also realise now that a major development that did occur was in my understanding of the knowledge and learning of mathematics. My ideas of a teaching paradigm of social constructivism had not guided me sufficiently to incorporate activities and procedures to develop the non-cognitive aspects. I suggest that a paradigm which extends the theory of social constructivism to give greater consideration of these aspects of learning in general, and hence numeracy and number sense in particular, was needed. As a result of this study, my introduction to the theory of enactivism appears to be giving me some direction in this search at this stage.
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