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R & D Activities: Project Details


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Textbook Analysis: Investigating the Mathematics Offered To Preservice Teachers (IMPT)

Mathematics textbooks for undergraduate elementary education majors, and courses that use those textbooks, have a large impact on the mathematics those students learn. This research investigates the content of current mathematics texts for elementary teachers, the intentions and priorities of their authors, and how the texts are used in coursework.

This project investigates what mathematics preservice elementary teachers are given the opportunity to learn in mathematics content classes. The study, which is at its early stages, includes: (1) analyzing textbook contents; (2) interviewing authors of those texts; (3) collecting and analyzing other course materials; (4) interviewing faculty members who teach those courses; and (5) surveying instructors of those courses.

1) Analyzing Textbook Contents: We focus on what mathematics is found in the textbooks used in Preservice mathematics courses and how the authors of those books decide what to include and how to present it in the text.

The data for this study include analyses of 18 current (and in preparation) mathematics textbooks for elementary teachers; interviews with authors of those texts; and interviews with faculty members teaching mathematics courses for elementary teachers. We consider three strands of the mathematics curriculum: multiplication, fractions, and reasoning & proof.

This work provides a foundation for improving the mathematical education of prospective elementary teachers. Although it is widely accepted that many elementary teachers enter their careers with inadequate preparation in mathematics, and that the knowledge they need goes beyond knowing how to do the mathematics of elementary school, there is little research about different approaches to the undergraduate mathematics education of these teachers, what they are being offered and how differences in their undergraduate coursework impacts their knowledge or their practices. While the current research does not reach those very important question, it does provide a starting point by addressing the question of what prospective teachers are being given the opportunity to learn through textbooks and courses in mathematics.