“I now feel confident to handle this in my teaching”: Pre-service teachers’ responses to a numeracy coursework unit

Year: 2016

Author: Hall, Jennifer, Forgasz, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In recent years, numeracy has become a key focus in primary and secondary education in Australia, through the introduction of numeracy as a general capability in the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.). Furthermore, numeracy is one of the graduate expectations for teachers, as per the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2014) requirements. Consequently, Australian universities must ensure that graduates of their teacher preparation programs are prepared to address these demands.In this presentation, we will discuss Numeracy for Learners and Teachers, an MTeach coursework unit that was introduced in 2015 at Monash University. We will begin by providing an overview of the unit, including the design, weekly topics (e.g., the arts, history), and assignments. We then focus on findings from research we conducted with students enrolled in the unit. The design of both the unit and our research was framed by the 21st Century Numeracy Model (Goos, Dole, & Geiger, 2014), which is consistent with a social constructivist theoretical stance.To evaluate the impact of the unit on the students’ confidence, beliefs, and understandings of numeracy, we collected data in 2015 and 2016, at the start and end of the unit. In 2015, most students were enrolled in the Secondary stream, while in 2016, most students were enrolled in the Primary stream, thus providing an interesting contrast. Pre- and post-unit online questionnaires were conducted in order to ascertain any changes in the students’ views. The questionnaires featured a mix of open-ended (e.g., definitions, explanations) and closed items (e.g., yes/no/unsure responses, Likert-type response formats).We found that participation in the unit had a substantial impact on students’ understandings of numeracy as a concept, as well as the differences between mathematics and numeracy. Importantly, students reported significant improvements in their confidence and willingness to incorporate numeracy in their teaching. This bodes well for their addressing the aforementioned numeracy expectations of Australian teachers and students. Additional findings, including those related to between-cohort differences, will be presented at the conference.ReferencesAustralian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (n.d.). General capabilities. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/overview/introductionAustralian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership. (2014). Australian professional standards for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional- standards-for-teachers/standards/listGoos, M., Geiger, V., & Dole, S. (2014). Transforming professional practice in numeracy teaching. In Y. Li, E. Silver, & S. Li (Eds.), Transforming mathematics instruction: Multiple approaches and practices (pp. 81–102). New York, NY: Springer.