Examining Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Transfer of Mathematical Specialized Content Knowledge about Place Value of Whole Numbers
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Researchers frequently fail to identify the effectiveness of teacher education in facilitating its graduates’ transfer of knowledge from learning context to teaching milieu. One of the reasons for the failure may be that they do not pay due attention to the specific content and context involved in transfer. This dissertation examines the transfer of preservice teachers’ specialized content knowledge about place value of whole numbers from learning to microteaching and teaching. It serves two goals: First, it investigates how well preservice teachers are able to acquire specialized content knowledge about place value in an elementary mathematics methods course. Second, it measures the extent to which they can transfer the specialized content knowledge developed in their methods course to microteaching and teaching practice in their practicum classrooms associated with the methods courses. To achieve the goals, this dissertation studies 37 preservice teachers’ learning and applying of specialized content knowledge about place value of whole number. Five sets of data are collected: 1) pre-test, 2) post-test, 3) microteaching plans, 4) microteaching videos, and 5) teaching practice videos. To analyze preservice teachers’ acquisition of specialized content knowledge, the difference between their performance on pre-test and post-test is calculated and tested using Wilcoxon signed-rank test. To determine the extent to which they transfer the acquired specialized content knowledge developed in methods course to microteaching and teaching contexts and from microteaching to teaching, further statistical analyses are executed including Fisher’s Exact Test and Spearman Correlation. The dissertation reveals a significant and positive growth in preservice teachers’ specialized content knowledge on the overall level and on its three specific sub-dimensions⸺ using manipulatives, making explanations, and justifying student works in the mathematics methods course module. However, the transfers from knowledge development to microteaching and to teaching practice are not significant. From microteaching to teaching practice, the overall transfer effect is not significant either. Nevertheless, the transfer effect is significant on two sub-dimensions of specialized content knowledge⸺ using manipulatives and making explanations.