Teacher education does matter: A situative view of learning to teach secondary mathematics

Hilda Borko, Dominic Peressini, Lew Romagnano, Eric Knuth, Christine Willis-Yorker, Candace Wooley, Jeff Hovermill, Kate Masarik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The visions of mathematics classrooms called for by current educational reform efforts pose great challenges for kindergarten through Grade 12 schools and teacher education programs. Although a number of colleges and universities throughout the country are making changes in their teacher education programs to reflect these reform recommendations, we have little systematic information on the nature of these programs or their impact on prospective teachers. These issues are of central concern in the study - Learning to Teach Secondary Mathematics in Two Reform-Based Teacher Education Programs - that we draw on in this article. The article focuses on 1 preservice teacher's (Ms. Savant) knowledge, beliefs, and practices related to proof, tasks, and discourse. A situative perspective on cognition and components of teachers' professional knowledge frame our research. We examined data on Ms. Savant's experiences in her teacher education program to understand the influences of teacher education on her development as a mathematics teacher. This research indicates that Ms. Savant's teacher education experiences did make a difference in her development as a teacher. Her mathematics methods course provided a large collection of tasks, engaged her and her preservice colleagues in discourse, and provided her with both formal and informal experiences with proof - all of these experiences reflecting reform-based visions of mathematics classrooms. The situative perspective on cognition directed our attention to issues of compatibility of goals and visions across the various university and kindergarten through Grade 12 classroom settings, and it helped us to understand why some aspects of reform-based pedagogy are more easily learned than others: Why some ideas and practices learned as a student in the university setting are more easily transported to the novice teacher's kindergarten through Grade 12 field setting. We conclude that compatibility of these settings on several key dimensions is essential for the settings to reinforce each other's messages, and thus work in conjunction, rather than in opposition, to prepare reform-minded teachers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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