Using the history of mathematics to induce changes in preservice teachers’ beliefs and attitudes: insights from evaluating a teacher education program
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Scholars and teacher educators alike agree that teachers’ beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics are key informants of teachers’ instructional approaches. Therefore, it has become clear that, in addition to enriching preservice teachers’ (PSTs) knowledge, teacher education programs should also create opportunities for prospective teachers to develop productive beliefs and attitudes toward teaching and learning mathematics. This study explored the effectiveness of a mathematics preparatory program based on the history of mathematics that aimed at enhancing PSTs’ epistemological and efficacy beliefs and their attitudes toward mathematics. Using data from a questionnaire administered four times, the study traced the development of 94 PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes over a period of 2 years. The analysis of these data showed changes in certain dimensions of the PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes; however, other dimensions were found to change in the opposite direction to that expected. Differences were also found in the development of the PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes according to their mathematical background. The data yielded from semi-structured follow-up interviews conducted with a convenience sample of PSTs largely corroborated the quantitative data and helped explain some of these changes. We discuss the effectiveness of the program considered herein and draw implications for the design of teacher education programs grounded in the history of mathematics.