Preservice elementary teachers (PSTs) often enter their teacher preparation programs with procedural and underdeveloped understandings of area measurement and its applications. This is problematic given that area and the area model are used throughout K–Grade 12 to develop flexibility in students’ mathematical understanding and to provide them with a visual interpretation of numerical ideas. This study describes an intervention aimed at bolstering PSTs’ understanding of area and area units with respect to measurement and number and operations. Following the intervention, results indicate that PSTs had both an improved ability to solve area tiling tasks as well as increased flexibility in the strategies they implemented. The results indicate that PSTs, similar to elementary students, develop a conceptual understanding of area from the use of tangible tools and are able to leverage visualizations to make sense of multiplicative structure across different strategies.
Katherine Baker, Naomi A. Jessup, Victoria R. Jacobs, Susan B. Empson, and Joan Case
Productive struggle is an essential part of mathematics instruction that promotes learning with deep understanding. A video scenario is used to provide a glimpse of productive struggle in action and to showcase its characteristics for both students and teachers. Suggestions for supporting productive struggle are provided.