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.
Corey Webel and Sheunghyun Yeo
In this article, we share results from a field experience model in which junior-year methods classes were held in an elementary school and preservice teachers (PSTs) worked with a single student (a “Math Buddy") on mathematics for 30 minutes per day. We focus on the development of PSTs’ skills for exploring children’s thinking and the structures and tools that we used to support this development. Data sources include screencast recordings of interactions with Math Buddies and written reflections completed by PSTs. Although the responsiveness of interactions varied across individuals and interactions, in general, PSTs showed improvements in exploring children’s thinking. We share implications of these findings for similar field experience models and for practice-based approaches to teacher education generally.