The development of specialized content knowledge in beginning algebra among secondary mathematics pre-service teachers
Pettry, Danielle Nichole
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The goal of teacher preparation programs is to equip future secondary mathematics teachers for the broad spectrum of mathematical learners they will encounter. Part of that process includes developing their Specialized Content Knowledge, defined by Ball, Hill, and Bass (2005) as a deeper understanding of mathematics that allows teachers to explain new ideas, work problems in multiple ways, and analyze student solutions. This study examined the development of Specialized Content Knowledge among secondary mathematics pre-service teachers. Forty-seven pre-service teachers completed a demographic survey and an assessment measuring Specialized Content Knowledge. Twenty-three of those pre-service teachers were then interviewed to further illuminate experiences that influenced their responses on the assessment, and to elaborate on experiences that they identified as helping them develop Specialized Content Knowledge. Qualitative analysis revealed two broad categories aiding in the development of Specialized Content Knowledge: coursework and interactions with learners. Within the category of coursework, pre-service teachers highlighted course components that were also related to interactions with learners, often in a hypothetical way (e.g., analyzing fictional student work). Findings indicate that the development of Specialized Content Knowledge is strongly influenced by interactions with learners, both face to face and hypothetical. These results are discussed along with recommendations for practice and future research.