Investigating middle school preservice mathematics teachers’ conceptions of algebra and knowledge of task purposes and student thinking

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Faculty of Education, Mathematics and Science Education, Turkey

Approval Date: 2018




Starting with the beginning of the 21th century, teaching algebra in the early grades has gained more attention. Since teachers are one of the crucial factors in teaching early algebra, this study aimed to understand middle school pre-service mathematics teachers’ (PSMTs’) awareness about the underlying algebraic structure of given tasks, their conceptions of algebra, expectations about possible student solutions, and the changes after attending the algebra weeks in the Methods of Teaching Mathematics Course. With this aim, a qualitative study was conducted with third year middle school pre-service mathematics teachers who were enrolled to the Methods of Teaching Mathematics Courses in the Elementary Mathematics Education program at a public university in Ankara, Turkey. The data were collected throughout hour-long, semi-structured, task-based individual interviews. The pre-interviews were conducted with eight participants before the two weeks focus on algebra chapter in the tenth week of the first semester and the post-interviews were conducted with seven of these participants after the algebra weeks in the fourth week of the second semester. The findings of the study indicated that the PSMTs were successful in their awareness of task purposes and knowledge of student’s possible solutions except anticipating student misconceptions regarding the equal sign in the pre-interviews. In the post-interviews, PSMTs were more successful at this. While, in the pre-interviews, PSMTs’ categorization of student solutions seemed narrow focusing on symbol manipulation than on relational thinking, this situation changed in the post-interviews. However, PSMTs were not found to hold consistent conceptions of algebra during the interviews.