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The Educational Approaches of Turkish Pre-Service Elementary Mathematics Teachers in Their First Teaching EJ1041869

  • Text
  • Approaches
  • Constructivist
  • Beliefs
  • Mathematics
  • Educational
  • Opinions
  • Classroom
  • Practices
  • Elementary
  • Australian
  • Turkish
  • Futuriststeam.co.uk

Australian Journal

Australian Journal of Teacher Education should not remain passive listeners. Students should discover things on their own. Student should be actively engaged in activities. In addition, one pre-service teacher stated that he knows what to do in theory, but that he does not know how to do it in practice. Two pre-service teachers offered opinions that were incompatible with the constructivist approach: Control could be lost if students are too involved in the process. Not everything in math can be learned by experiencing it. Some information should be directly conveyed, and students’ physical activity can be ensured by reward and punishment. All the PTs stated that the teacher should guide students rather than conveying knowledge. Asked how to perform this role, they proposed methods such as giving hints, presenting methods, directing students to do research, asking them thought-provoking questions and guiding them with questions. However, some PTs did not know exactly how this guiding role should be performed by teachers: The teacher should be a guide in all activities. I mean, s(he) should guide students, show them methods, or ask them after performing an activity to do the same. (PT 10) Asked what could be done to initiate the teaching-learning process with experiential learning activities, as suggested by the math curriculum; the majority of the PTs suggested ideas that are consistent with the constructivist approach. These PTs stated that situations that students encounter in their everyday lives can be used as a point of departure for experiential learning, and equipment, concrete materials and activities that will enable students to learn by experiencing should be used. One pre-service teacher, on the other hand, stated that it is difficult to provide students with experiential learning opportunities in math classes. Asked what should be done to improve communication skills, which are also emphasized in the math curriculum; PTs suggested: Tasks in which students are active, relating skills to everyday life, creating a good atmosphere for discussion, ensuring meaningful learning, using methods like discovery instead of direct knowledge transfer, encouraging students to make presentations at the end of group works, making use of educative games, and writing problems. The PTs’ Reasons for Choosing the Approaches that They Used in Their First TP In the final stage of the interviews, the PTs were briefly reminded of their teaching practice and asked whether the dominant approach in their teaching practice was constructivist or traditional. While most of them stated that it was traditional, a limited number of them reported that they had tried to conduct the class in line with the constructivist approach. However, they had failed to do so completely. In the interviews, PTs defined the teaching environment where teacher-focused approach is dominant, students are generally passive and direct lecturing is generally used as traditional, whereas they defined the practices based on the constructivist approach as the new (or contemporary) approach. In this stage of the interviews, PTs were asked why they had steered towards the approach that was dominant in their first teaching practice, and then their opinions on the factors that had possibly influenced their preferences were investigated. Our findings are presented in the framework of the themes that emerged from the data. Table 4 shows PTs’ opinions on the influence of their educational lives before and during university on their preference of approaches that they exhibited in their first TP. Main Themes Sub-Themes n Pre-university Influential in using traditional approaches 10 Vol 39, 10, September 2014 121

Australian Journal of Teacher Education Education We need to overcome this influence 1 So influential that it prevents us from implementing the approaches that we learn at the university 1 Positive influence on the desire to implement new approaches 3 University education An insufficient effort; practical aspect is weak 6 Education courses are not seen as important 1 Constructivist in name, traditional in practice 2 Content knowledge that we will use in our professional lives is not taught Table 4: Influence of Educational Experiences 1 As Table 4 shows, the majority of the PTs stated that having been educated by traditional methods unwillingly led them to use these approaches in their teaching practices. A significant number of PTs think that the education they receive in universities is not adequate to enable them to overcome this negative influence: I can only say that we tend to do what has been done to us, we show what we have been shown, because children do what they see their fathers do. (PT9) We were trained in teacher-focused environments. So everything in a classroom, say, the atmosphere, the arrangement, that blue color, all these things take you into the past, to your background, and then you immediately become someone like your previous teachers. (PT1) Six pre-service teachers stated that, although efforts are being made by universities to achieve a transition to the practices set forth by the constructivist approach, these efforts are inadequate: There are efforts to replace traditional approaches, but they are not enough. We still do not fully know what we can do as classroom activities. (PT 6) On the other hand, three pre-service teachers reported that the university education that they had been receiving significantly contributed to their ability to implement new approaches. However, taking a closer look at the transcripts, we notice that the pedagogical contribution of university education that is emphasized by these PTs is not consistent with the arguments of constructivist approach: At the university, we were the ones who were active, especially in the last two or three years. I think this is a good thing. The first year I came to university, I was mute, I could not talk about anything, especially in front of the class. But now I can easily prove something. I can lecture about a topic. I mean, I am now capable of producing something related to mathematics. (PT 2) Some PTs stated that the traditional understanding is still prevalent in university courses, that new approaches are still lacking, especially in practice, that education courses are not given sufficient importance, and that they could not fully learn the content knowledge that they will use in their professional lives: Well, it appears that we did not capture the practical aspect of the new approaches. What we saw as a model was always a traditional approach. Except for a couple of university professors, all of them conducted their classes using traditional methods. They say that we should do this and that; however, they do not practice this, and no one will embrace something they recommend, but that they do not practice. (PT 8) Vol 39, 10, September 2014 122

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