Factors affecting elementary mathematics teachers’ beliefs over time
Sawyer, Amanda Gantt
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Some researchers found that preservice mathematics teacher education programs have little effect on elementary mathematics teacher beliefs (Hiebert, Gallimore, & Stigler, 2002; Raymond, 1997). Spangler, Sawyer, Kang, Kim, and Kim (2012) identified that a preservice teacher education program can influence beliefs for some mathematics teachers. However, for each of these studies, the question still remains as to what happens to these beliefs and teaching practices after the first two years of teaching. In this study, I explored three elementary mathematics teachers from Spangler et al.’s (2012) investigation 10 years after their preservice education program ended to investigate their current beliefs about the nature of mathematics, teaching mathematics, and learning mathematics and how these beliefs compared to those they held during their second year of teaching. I used the Integrating Mathematics and Pedagogy (IMAP) Belief Survey, interviews, classroom observations, Known Factors Affecting Belief Change Survey, and a focus group interview to compare their beliefs from their junior year of college to their 10th year teaching to determine the factors that influenced their beliefs. I constructed a mapping of the factors the participants identified to the beliefs or teaching practices they influenced. From this mapping, I found that the category of factor did not determine the beliefs or teaching practices it affected. From the mapping and defining of beliefs, some conclusions were made about what affects elementary teachers over time. First, the data showed that their teacher education programs might not initially influence individuals, but later, the individuals could become aware of their beliefs and take practices taught in teacher education programs into consideration. Second, I found that teacher education programs had a lasting impact on these participants. Third, after the participants graduated, their new roles as wives and mothers affected how they view their beliefs and teaching practices. Finally, the participants identified economic situations as powerful factors affecting how they teach their students. Much was learned from these three teachers’ experiences over time, and this knowledge can help influence future elementary teachers.