ERG SES G 01, Mathematics and Education
Teachers are the key factors in raising successful students. What is meant by being successful refers to that students are expected to be responsible of their own learning and actively construct their own knowledge (Wheatley, 1991) as constructivism suggests. Whether it is cognitive (Piaget), radical (Von Glasersfeld), or socio-cultural (Vygotsky) constructivism, in constructivist learning environments, the responsibility of the teachers becomes being a guide and facilitator while the responsibility of the students is to be investigator and constructor of knowledge. Beswick (2007) explains this as “Learning is thus an active and purposeful process whereby individuals adapt their constructions in order to optimize their fit with experience” (p. 97). While the traditional instructional programs mainly see mathematics as facts or rules that are needed to be prescribed to students, and focus on teaching procedural knowledge (Ball, Lubienski, & Mewborn, 2001; McTighe, Seif, & Wiggins, 2004; Talim Terbiye Kurulu Baskanligi [TTKB], 2006), programs based on constructivist approach target meaningful and long-term learning through paying attention to the cognitive levels of students (TTKB, 2006). They provide opportunities for investigation, questioning, inquiry, discovery, active participation, and group work. Von Glasersfeld (1990) underlines that learning happens through constructing new knowledge on prior knowledge. The constructivist curriculum requires teachers to provide teaching where they create learning environments to let students construct mathematical concepts. Making the students the center of learning environment, teachers are expected to provide space for students to discover mathematical concepts and abilities. In order to be able to solve problems, connect concepts, communicate through mathematics, and using multiple representations to understand mathematics; the students need environments where they do mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 1989, 2000).
To be able to create constructivist learning environments, teachers should appropriately adapt the curriculum into their teaching. Adaptation process differs on the teachers who see mathematics as changeable and believe that students can learn mathematics through constructing meaning for it (e.g., Remillard, 1999). Some research in the literature points that teaching is a multi-dimensional activity and it requires deep analyses to understand the level of curriculum adaptation by teachers (Drake & Sherin, 2006; Orrill & Anthony, 2003; Remillard, 1999).
Teachers may not effectively evaluate how productively they adapt constructivist approach on their teaching no matter how positive their perception towards constructivism is (Savasci & Berlin, 2012). Frykholm’s (1999) study on the secondary mathematics student-teachers reveals that the pre-service teachers in that study could not apply their vision of reform into their own teaching practices. While some of the student teachers were willing to and confident in implementing reform in the classrooms, some had questions in their minds because of some limiting factors. This shows that being willing to implement reform may not be enough in putting it into the practice.
The aim of the present study was to investigate prospective secondary mathematics teachers’ perceptions on and adaptation of constructivist curriculum into their teaching. It explored the following research questions:
What are perceptions of the prospective secondary mathematics teachers towards constructivist learning?
To what extent the prospective secondary mathematics teachers adapt the constructivist mathematics curriculum into their teaching?
What is the relationship between the perceptions of teachers and their adaptation level of the curriculum?
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