Technology and algebra in secondary mathematics teacher preparation programs

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Eryn M. Stehr, Lynette D. Guzman, Adam H. Hakes
Recent standards documents from NCTM and CCSSO advocated for learning algebraic topics with technology. Research recommended that teachers make intentional use of knowledge of limitations and affordances of technology use for teaching and learning of algebra topics (Ferrara, Pratt & Robutti, 2006). CBMS (2012) recommended that pre-service teachers (PSTs) have opportunities in mathematics courses to develop this ability to choose and use technology strategically. This study explores opportunities provided by teacher preparation programs for secondary mathematics PSTs to encounter technology in learning algebra and in learning to teach algebra. We define technology narrowly as electronic tools and software. This study is a qualitative analysis of pilot data gathered from a larger mixed-methods project (see Endnote). We compiled data about teacher preparation programs at three universities through a focus group of three or four graduating PSTs, interviews with mathematics and mathematics education instructors, and instructional materials for select courses at each site. We used recommendations from CBMS (2012) to develop an analytical framework focusing on: type of use, type of course, type of encounter, type of technological tool, and whether the PSTs are asked to think critically about the use or choice of technological tool for learning or learning to teach each particular algebraic topic. Our analysis includes a general overview of opportunities for PSTs to use technology in learning mathematics and in learning to teach mathematics. We then narrow our focus to examine these opportunities as they relate specifically to algebra. We found that instructors integrated technology into mathematics education courses, with more variety of types and uses, than into mathematics courses. Our data suggest that even in mathematics courses that use technology PSTs have few opportunities to see and use a variety of technological tools. Our poster will describe general patterns of technology use in mathematics and mathematics education at each university. It will also display examples of specific algebra tasks with technology, and our analysis of those tasks according to the framework developed from recommendations in CBMS (2012). Endnote: This study comes from the Preparing to Teach Algebra project, a collaborative project between groups at Michigan State (PI: Sharon Senk) and Purdue (co-PIs: Yukiko Maeda and Jill Newton) Universities. This research is supported by the National Science Foundation grant DRL-1109256. References: Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences [CBMS]. (2012). The Mathematical Education of Teachers II. Providence RI and Washington DC: American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America. Ferrara, F., Pratt, D., & Robutti, O. (2006). The role and uses of technologies for the teaching of algebra and calculus. Handbook of Research on the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Past, Present and Future, 237-274.

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