measuring mathematical sophistication in preservice elementary teachers

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Measuring Mathematical Sophistication in Preservice Elementary Teachers. Eric W. Kuennen Jennifer Earles Szydlik University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Carol E. Seaman University of North Carolina Greensboro. Mathematical Sophistication. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Measuring Mathematical Sophistication in Preservice Elementary TeachersEric W. KuennenJennifer Earles SzydlikUniversity of Wisconsin OshkoshCarol E. SeamanUniversity of North Carolina Greensboro

  • Mathematical SophisticationAn abundance of research suggests that preservice elementary teachers are unsophisticated; they often believe that doing mathematics means memorizing and applying formulas to contrived textbook exercises (Ball, 1990; Carpenter, Lindquist, Mattews & Silver, 1983; Schuck, 1996).

  • Mathematical SophisticationWe use mathematical sophistication to describe the result of acculturation into the community of practicing mathematicians. In other words, a mathematically sophisticated individual has taken as her own the values and ways of knowing of the mathematical community.

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #1Mathematicians seek to understand patterns based on underlying structure.

    Seeing and revealing hidden patterns is what mathematicians do best (Steen, 1990, p. 1).

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #2Mathematicians make analogies by finding the same essential structure in seemingly different mathematical objects.

    Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things Poincar

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #3Mathematicians make and test conjectures about mathematical objects and structures.

    When you try to prove a theorem, you dont just list the hypothesis, and then start to reason. What you do is trial and error, experimentation, guesswork Halmos, 1985, p. 321

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #4Mathematicians create mental (and physical) models for and examples and non-examples of mathematical objects. A good stock of examples, as large as possible, is indispensable for a thorough understanding of any concept, and when I want to learn something new, I make it my first job to build one Halmos, in Gallian, 1998, p. 40

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #5Mathematicians value precise mathematical definitions of objects.

    The mathematician is not concerned with the current meaning of his technical term. The mathematical definition creates the mathematical meaning. Polya, 1957, p. 86

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #6Mathematicians value an understanding of why relationships make sense. Mathematicians do not study objects, but relations among objects; they are indifferent to the replacement of objects by others as long as relations do not change. Matter is not important, only form interests them. Poincar

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #7Mathematicians value logical arguments and counterexamples as our sources of conviction.

    Proof is the idol before whom the pure mathematician tortures himself Eddington, 1928, p. 337

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #8Mathematicians value precise language and have fine distinctions about language. Such is the advantage of a well-constructed language that its simplified notation often becomes the source of profound theories Laplace

  • Mathematical Sophistication Framework Value #9Mathematicians value symbolic representations of, and notation for, objects and ideas. In symbols one observes an advantage in discovery which is greatest when they express the exact nature of a thing briefly and, as it were, picture it; then indeed the labor of thought is wonderfully diminished. Leibniz

  • Previous ResearchSeaman and Szydlik (2007)Basic Math Skills Inventory given to preservice elementary teachersSample of high- and low-scoring students were given a web-based teacher resource to apply a mathematical definition, to correct a procedural error in arithmetic, and to make sense of a story requiring the multiplication of fractionsAuthors argue that the high-scoring students were more mathematically sophisticated.

  • MMSI: Measuring Mathematical Sophistication InstrumentMeasures a persons level of mathematical sophistication27 Multiple-Choice ItemsMathematical content is novel, not a part of the standard K-16 curriculumTool for assessing courses and pedagogy

  • Results from Fall 2008 PilotMean 11.9, Median 12, Std. Dev. 4.26

  • High Item/Test correlations23) You are a student learning about using lines to model data and, after the lesson, a student raises her hand and makes a guess about how other types of functions could be used to model data. Which option best reflects your view?

    A) I would probably just want to know whether she was correct or not. (16%)B)I would probably want to spend time exploring her guess myself. (48%)C)I would probably prefer to focus only on the material that was part of the real lesson. (7%)D)I would probably want the instructor to figure it out and explain it to me. (29%)

  • High Item/Test correlations 3) Consider the following statement:

    There are at most six ducks in the pond. Assuming this statement is true, which of the following statements must also be true?

    A)There is at least one duck in the pond. (20%)B)There are six ducks in the pond. (9%)C)Both of the above statements must be true. (24%)D)None of the above statements must be true. (47%)

  • High Item/Test correlations25) Suppose that you build a 3 3 3 block by gluing together 27 small cubes. Then you dip the block in paint, let it dry, and take it apart to again have 27 small cubes. How many of the small cubes will have paint on exactly three sides?A) 4 (21%)B) 8 (44%)C) 9 (21%)D) None of the above. (12.5%)

  • High Item/Test correlations14) Zachary has created a new category of polygons which he named isolaterals. He calls a polygon an isolateral if at least two adjacent sides are the same length. (Adjacent sides share a common endpoint.) Which of the following 4-sided polygons is/are isolateral?I) II)III) A) I and II only(20%)B) II and III only (12.5%)C) II only (7%)D) I and III only (61%)

  • High Item/Test correlations7) The numbers 1, 6 and 12 are called hexagonal frame numbers because one dot, six dots, and twelve dots can each be arranged in the shape of a hexagon frame as follows:

    one dot six dots twelve dots HF1 = 1 HF2 = 6 HF3 = 12We say that 1 is the first hexagonal frame number (HF1). The second hexagonal frame number (HF2) is 6, and so on. What is the fourth hexagonal frame number (HF4)?

    a) HF4 = 18 (59%) c) HF4 = 24 (27%)b) HF4 = 19 (12.5%) d) None of the above (2%)

  • High Item/Test correlations 6) Consider the following statement:When you multiply any two even numbers together, you always get an even product.

    Which of these arguments convinces you that the statement is true?

    A)6 2 = 12, 4 8 = 32, 12 2 = 24 and so you can see by doing examples that the products will all be even. (4%)B) Even numbers have two as a factor. If two is a factor of both numbers then two must also be a factor of their product. (49%)C) Both of the above are convincing. (38%)D)None of the above is convincing. (9%)

  • High Item/Test correlations14) The notation a ~ b means multiply together a copies of b. For example, 3 ~ 2 = 8. Which of the following is always equivalent to 9?A)1 ~ 9 (45%)B)9 ~ 1 (21%)C)0 ~ 9 (27%)D) 9 ~ 0 (5%)

  • Future ResearchCompare MMSI scores to math course performance and scores on basic mathematics inventory. Use MMSI pre- and post-tests to assess mathematics courses for pre-service teachers.

  • AcknowledgementsThis work was supported in part by a University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Faculty Development grant. We acknowledge our colleague John E. Beam of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, for his assistance in the development of this instrument and in the collection of data for this study.

  • ReferencesEddington, A. S. (1928). The nature of the physical world. Cambridge: University Press.Gallian, J. A. (1998). Contemporary abstract algebra (4th ed.). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.Halmos, P. R. (1985). I want to be a mathematician. Washington: Mathematical Association of America Spectrum.Poincar, H. (1946). Foundations of science: Science and hypothesis, the value of science, science and method. (G. B. Halsted, Trans.). Lancaster, PA: Science Press.Polya, G. (1957). How to solve it; a new aspect of mathematical method. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Seaman, C. E. & Szydlik J. E. (2007). Mathematical Sophistication among preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. v10 n3, 167-182.Simmons, G. (1992). Calculus gems. New York: McGraw Hill Inc.Steen, L. A. (Ed.). (1990). On the shoulders of giants: New approaches to numeracy. Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press.

  • Contact Information

    Eric W. Jennifer E. Carol E.

    *We assert that the difference between a sophisticated mathematics student and a naive one lies in her beliefs about the nature of mathematical behavior, her values concerning what it means to know mathematics, and particularly in her avenues of experiencing mathematical objects and her distinctions about language. *The three authors have doctorates in mathematics, are faculty members of the mathematics department of a midsize comprehensive university, and teach mathematics to preservice elementary teachers, to mathematics majors, and to graduate students


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