Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 91–119 | Cite as

Initiating Change in Prospective Elementary School Teachers' Orientations to Mathematics Teaching by Building on Beliefs

  • Rebecca Ambrose


Many mathematics educators have found thatprospective elementary school teachers' beliefsinterfere with their learning of mathematics.Often teacher educators consider these beliefsto be wrong or naïve and seek to challengethem so prospective teachers will reject themfor more generative beliefs. Because of theresilience of prospective teachers' beliefs inresponse to these challenges, teacher educatorscould consider alternative ways of thinkingabout and addressing beliefs, particularly thepotential of building on rather than tearingdown pre-existing beliefs. Data from anearly-field experience linked to amathematics-for-teachers course provideevidence that when prospective teachers workintimately with children, in this case tryingto teach 10-year-olds about fractions, theexperience has the intensity from which beliefscan grow. Most of the prospective teachers inthe study were surprised that mathematicsteaching was more difficult than they hadanticipated. They began to consider theimportance of providing children time to thinkwhen solving mathematical problems. The changedescribed in the study is incremental ratherthan monumental, suggesting that building uponprospective teachers' existing beliefs will bea gradual process.

field experience mathematics pre-service teacher education prospective teachers' beliefs 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Ambrose
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California-DavisDavisUSA, E-mail

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