Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 37–55

Beliefs about mathematics teaching held by pre-service teachers involved in a first grade mentorship program


  • Laura R. Van Zoest
    • Department of Mathematics and StatisticsWestern Michigan University
  • Graham A. Jones
    • Department of MathematicsIllinois State University
  • Carol A. Thornton
    • Department of MathematicsIllinois State University

DOI: 10.1007/BF03217261

Cite this article as:
Van Zoest, L.R., Jones, G.A. & Thornton, C.A. Math Ed Res J (1994) 6: 37. doi:10.1007/BF03217261


The study compared beliefs about mathematics teaching of four pre-service elementary teachers involved in an intervention experience with those of their non-involved peers. During this intervention, which was based on a socio-constructivist approach to mathematics instruction, the intervention group participated in regular, small-group teaching experiences supported by on-going seminars. The study also examined the relationship between professed beliefs and observed actions for the intervention group.

Although most pre-service teachers in this study seemed to attach some importance to children building their own knowledge through social interaction, the intervention group professed significantly stronger beliefs in a socio-constructivist instructional environment than the comparison group. Even though the intervention group strongly espoused socio-constructivist beliefs, they were not uniformly successful in translating these beliefs into instructional actions. Their actions appeared to be most consistent with a socio-constructivist perspective during the initial phase of an instructional episode, but in later phases their actions reflected more traditional beliefs about teaching mathematics.

Copyright information

© Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia Inc. 1994