Enhancing Mathematics Beliefs and Teaching Efficacy of Prospective Teachers through an Online Video Club

Article excerpt

Introduction

The ministry of education (MOE) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) noticed that mathematics education in public schools suffers from many problems: emphasis is placed on computational skills and memorization; conceptual understanding is not promoted; mathematics is not connected to students' real life; and teaching mathematics is not providing students with the necessary skills needed for living in a society that enjoys economic prosperity such as problem solving, critical thinking, and communication (MOE, 2001).

Inspired by the significant need for advancing mathematics education in the country, the MOE issued the National Document for Mathematics Curriculum in Public Education [NDMCPE] (MOE, 2001). The NDMCPE espoused the vision of reform as presented by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM] (NCTM, 1991, 2000). The document set forth content and process standards for school mathematics. The content standards included number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry, measurement, and data analysis and probability. The process standards included problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connection, and representation.

The College of Education (CEDU) at the UAE University, the largest university in the country, was also inspired by the educational reform in the United States of America (USA). Therefore, it restructured its programs and curricula to meet the standards of the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Part of meeting NCATE standards, of course, is meeting the NCTM/NCATE mathematics program standards. On this basis, the CEDU has been recognized by the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education (ICQAIE) since 2005.

As teacher educators at the CEDU, we strive to prepare high quality teachers who can improve mathematics education in the country. Part of our efforts goes to nurturing positive mathematics beliefs of prospective mathematics teachers and raising their sense of teaching efficacy because these are seen by researchers as critical constructs that influence teachers' practice and their student learning (Hart, 2002; Wilkins & Brand, 2004).

In this article, we report the results of a study that aimed at assessing the mathematics beliefs of prospective teachers (PTs) and their mathematics teaching efficacy at the end of a methods course. The study consists of two parts. The first part is concerned with the effectiveness of a methods course in changing mathematics beliefs of PTs positively and raising their mathematics teaching efficacy. The research questions for this part are:

1. Is there a significant change in PTs' mathematics beliefs as measured by the Mathematics Beliefs Instrument (MBI) as a result of studying the mathematics methods course?

2. Is there a significant increase in PTs' mathematics teaching efficacy as measured by the Mathematics Teaching Efficacy Beliefs Instrument (MTEBI) as a result of studying the mathematics methods course?

The second part is concerned with the effectiveness of an online video club in changing mathematics beliefs of prospective teachers positively and raising their mathematics teaching efficacy. The research questions for this part are:

1. Is there a significant difference in PTs' mathematics beliefs as measured by the MBI due to treatment?

2. Is there a significant difference in PTs' mathematics teaching efficacy as measured by the MTEBI due to treatment?

Theoretical Framework

Since individuals' beliefs determine the way they view the world (Philipp, 2007), teachers' beliefs have great influence on their behavior in the classroom. Researchers have found that mathematics teachers' beliefs are linked with their instructional methods and student learning (Philipp, 2007; Wilson & Cooney, 2002). In a recent study (Swars, 2005), it was found that many prospective teachers hold the belief that mathematics is a set of facts and procedures. …