Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Prospective Elementary Mathematics Teachers' Thought Processes on a Model Eliciting Activity

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Prospective Elementary Mathematics Teachers' Thought Processes on a Model Eliciting Activity

Article excerpt


Mathematical model and modeling are one of the topics that have been intensively discussed in recent years. The purpose of this study is to examine prospective elementary mathematics teachers' thought processes on a model eliciting activity and reveal difficulties or blockages in the processes. The study includes forty-five seniors taking the course of Modeling in Teaching Mathematics in an elementary education program at a university. Three prospective teachers were selected among them and then interviewed in a focus group. The transcription of conversation of the group was examined and qualitatively analyzed. Findings indicated that prospective teachers were able to successfully work with modeling eliciting activity and improve their mathematical understandings. They also showed some difficulties while working on the modeling activity.

Key Words

Model Eliciting Activity, Prospective Teachers, Elementary Education, Mathematics Modeling.

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In recent years, research studies in mathematics education have been increasingly interested in mathematical model and modeling because of the need to establish the relationships between the real world and mathematics (Lesh, Hamilton, & Kaput, 2007). Many questions and problems about individual learning and teaching of mathematics have affected the relationship of mathematics to the real world (Blum, Galbraith, Henn, & Niss, 2002). PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) studies focusing on individual's ability to relate mathematics to the real world have particularly encouraged this type of study (OECD, 1999). In line with the results of the PISA studies, researchers in many countries have begun to question how much students in schooleducation system are prepared to solve the realworld problems they encounter in their future professional lives (Blum, 2002; English, 2006; Mousoulides, 2007). As a result, mathematics educators such as English (2002), Gainsbourg (2006) and Lesh and Doerr (2003) have begun to emphasize the importance of new skills and understanding for success in beyond the school. These are: (1) constructing, hypothesizing, describing, manipulating, predicting and understanding complex systems, (2) planning and working for complex and multifaceted problems that require critical communication skill and (3) adapting to work on conceptual systems developing continuously. When students increasingly face this kind of situations in their daily life, it is important to make sure that students have enough experience to work together and interpret mathematical situations that enable them to think in different ways and share their ideas with their peers. Thus, model eliciting activities are one of main tools that help students to gain experiences and the new skills required (Blum & Niss, 1991; English & Watters, 2005; Lesh & Doerr, 2003).

Research studies in elementary education level showed that model eliciting activities (a) are a powerful tool that helps students to develop critical and higher level thinking skills (English & Watters, 2005), (b) provide a new and effective learning environment in which students reveal and rebuild their existing conceptual knowledge (Chamberlin, 2004), (c) encourage the use of different and multiple representations to explain mathematical structure and conceptual systems (Boaler, 2001; English & Watters, 2004; Mousoulides, 2007) and (d) improve students' communication skills in sharing of their understanding of mathematical ideas (English, 2006). On the other hand, students had difficulties in the following modeling processes: understanding the problem, structuring and simplifying the problem, developing appropriate assumptions, exploring relationships between variables, questioning the relationship between the model and real-life and validating the model obtained (Blum & Leib, 2007; Crouch & Haines, 2007; Maab, 2007; Sol, Gimenez, & Rosich, 2011). …

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