Designing Multimedia Case Studies for Prospective Mathematics Teachers

Article excerpt

JI. of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia (2003) 12(2), 135-161

This article describes issues related to the design and research of a multimedia case study for prospective mathematics teachers. In the design section, we discuss three questions to consider when creating a multimedia case, and explore how various other researchers have answered them. In the results section, we describe a survey-based study we conducted that focused on the use of one multimedia case that was used in seven different mathematics methods classrooms across the US. Two overall findings were (a) the most useful and most highly rated feature of the CD was the teacher reflections, and (b) overall, the multimedia case received the highest ratings from students enrolled in courses where the case exploration activities were integrally woven into the course goals.

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The use of multimedia-enhanced case studies is slowly emerging as vehicle for supporting the professional preparation of teachers. In the field of mathematics education, researchers including Lampert and Ball (1998), Barron and Goldman (1994), Doerr, McClain, and Bowers (1997), Mousley and Sullivan (1997), and Seago and Mumme (2000) have described the benefits of implementing the multimedia cases they have created. Despite these positive reports, the use of multimedia cases in mathematics education is still rather limited. One reason for this may be that such case materials have traditionally been difficult and costly to produce. For example, in her review of Lampert and Ball's book describing their videocase project, Mousley (2000) noted that the amount of resources needed to create an extensive multimedia data base is "dreamland for most readers" (p. 245). Over the past five years however, the relative low-cost and wide availability of digital video cameras, scanners, and software tools for editing video and assembling materials have made it possible to create smaller-scale multimedia case studies for reasonable amounts of time and money. This potentially enables a greater number of teacher educators to create their own case materials and ultimately helps them contribute to the growing base of materials that can be made widely available to the larger community of teacher educators.

The prospect of developing multimedia case studies for a reasonable price and in a reasonable time frame highlights the need for design criteria and some empirical research describing how these criteria can be implemented in a way that would support the professional development of prospective and practicing teachers. Our goal is to address this need by (a) describing some design issues that could inform researchers and practitioners interested in developing multimedia cases for teacher professional development, and (b) reporting the results of one research study focusing on how one such multimedia case was used by teacher educators and the prospective teachers they taught.

Case Design Issues involved in the Development of Multimedia Cases

The case design issues we describe have emerged over the course of four years as we have engaged in several iterative cycles of developmental research (Gravemeijer, Cobb, Bowers, & Whitenack, 2000) and from our analysis of other design work in the field of mathematics teacher education. Our design team (1) found that the task of conceptualizing a multimedia case study that enables prospective teachers to look at "records of practice" (Lampert & Ball, 1998) begins by considering three intertwined design decisions:

1. What are the instructional goals of the case?

2. What is the scope of the case?

3. Given the instructional goals and scope of the case, what multimedia features can be developed and what artifacts could be included to best reach these goals?

In what follows, we elaborate on these questions by first describing our design decisions and then presenting an analysis of the influence and impact of these design decisions on the use of the case called "Making Weighty Decisions" (Bowers, Doerr, Masingila, & McClain, 2000) by teacher educators at seven different sites. …