Why new mathematics teachers do or don’t use practices emphasized in their credential program


A major research concern for teacher education is the impact of university credentialing programs on K-12 teaching and the disjuncture between university-promoted practices and what teachers actually do in their classrooms. In particular, mathematics-credential programs typically promote reform-oriented methods, while mathematics teaching in the US remains largely traditional. Proposed explanations for the limited uptake of university-promoted mathematics-teaching methods have included new teachers’ struggle to bridge the “two worlds” of the university and school, the relative difficulty of reform-oriented teaching, and the failure of the standard teacher-preparation model that teaches general pedagogical concepts prior to specific teaching tools and practices. In this study, interviews of 19 first- through 4th-year secondary-level mathematics teachers—graduates of a single credential program—investigated the factors, internal and external to the credential program, that these teachers perceived to support or impede their implementation of certain university-taught practices. The findings are used to examine previously proposed explanations for limited uptake, and recommendations are made for credential programs and employing schools.

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I thank Marian Pasternack for her research assistance, and Megan Staples and David Miller for their editorial help. This study was funded by a Teachers for a New Era grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation, and Annenberg Foundation.

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Correspondence to Julie Gainsburg.

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Gainsburg, J. Why new mathematics teachers do or don’t use practices emphasized in their credential program. J Math Teacher Educ 15, 359–379 (2012) doi:10.1007/s10857-012-9208-1

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  • Mathematics teacher education
  • Preservice teacher education
  • Impact of teaching
  • Credential program