Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 37-55

First online:

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

  • Laura R. Van ZoestAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics and Statistics, Western Michigan University
  • , Graham A. JonesAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, Illinois State University
  • , Carol A. ThorntonAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, Illinois State University

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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.