|Ph.D Student||Segal Ruti|
|Subject||Characterizing the Knowledge and Teaching of Mathematics|
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisors||Professor Boris Koichu|
|Professor Orit Zaslavsky|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
During recent years, there has been increased interest in studying the nature of mathematics teacher educators’ roles and activities, as well as in finding ways to characterize their knowledge and practice. This branch of research is relatively new, although research on the characteristics, knowledge, and skills of mathematics teachers has developed considerably during the last two decades.
The main goal of this dissertation study was to characterize the knowledge and skills of mathematics teacher educators, as manifested in their planning, implementing and self-reflection over the learning tasks they use when teaching mathematics teachers. Four highly reputable mathematics teacher educators, who were also active mathematics teachers, took part in the study. Their teaching during a series of professional-development workshops for in-service mathematics teachers (hereafter, student-teachers) was observed and each educator was interviewed. Observations focused on four points regarding the tasks: selection and design, presentation, management, and adaptation to workshops goals and to dispositions of participating student-teachers.
Educators' adaptability in the selection and design of mathematical tasks was found to be the most significant factor influencing the extent and quality of the student-teachers' mathematical and pedagogical activity during the workshops: Student-teacher learning was most successful when the chosen tasks were also suited to students in the classroom environment, and also provided ample opportunities for discussing pedagogical and mathematical aspects, were appropriate for exposing learning obstacles, and held the potential for surprise.
Findings also indicated that effective mathematics teacher educators tend to promote student-teachers' mathematical horizon knowledge, that is, knowledge that surpasses mathematics knowledge studied at high school. They also tend to emphasize the links between curriculum and extra-curriculum mathematics knowledge, and to draw attention to mathematical connections throughout the education curriculum, from elementary school to high school. These findings indicate that the mathematics teacher educators themselves possess well-developed mathematical and pedagogical horizon knowledge, wide-ranging pedagogical ideas, and crucial pedagogical skills. In addition, the educators formulated and presented learning tasks that were not only inspiring for the student-teachers in the workshops, but could readily be transposed from the workshop environment to the classroom.
The study makes a contribution to the ongoing debate on what knowledge and skills mathematics teacher educators require beyond those of mathematics teachers. In addition, the findings of this study can be used as a basis for developing professional development courses for mathematics teachers and mathematics teacher educators.