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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

Mathematical Identities of Pre-Service Elementary Teachers

Megan LaFond

Senior, Elementary Education Major with an Elementary Math Minor


Mathematical identity is defined as “the ways in which students think about themselves in relation to mathematics and the extent to which they have developed a commitment to, are engaged in and see value in mathematics and in themselves as learners of mathematics” (Graven, 2019). The mathematical identities of pre-service teachers influence not only their own mathematical work as they prepare to become teachers, but also their future mathematics teaching (Lutovac, 2013). Research suggests that mathematical identities are formed by specific and memorable positive or negative mathematical experiences during the school years. In this study, I focus on comparing the mathematical identities of preservice elementary teachers at both the start and the end of their mathematics content sequence (the start of their math methods course). Preservice elementary teachers in three sections of a first university math course (Number Systems) and in a section of their math methods course completed a twenty-four question Likert survey that asked them to reflect on their mathematical experiences and views on mathematics. Once the initial data was collected, a select group of students holding either an overall positive or negative mathematical identity were identified to participate in interviews. In that interview, they were asked to reflect on their mathematical memories, to talk about what it means to be a “good math student” and a “good math teacher” and to reflect on how their beliefs about math changed during their math content sequence (if at all) and why. In this talk, I will present the results of this work.

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