This is the summary of a presentation given at the Joint Mathematics
Meetings, January 10-13, 1996, Orlando, Florida.
Assessing Constructivist Techniques in a Secondary Mathematics Certification Program
The author discusses constructivist learning techniques in a program for secondary mathematics teacher preparation at a large state university. Fifteen students were selected for participation in the program. The selection was based on GPA and whether students expressed interest in secondary teaching. Students were required to take Discrete Mathematics, Modern Geometry, and a third course, a practicum. The faculty were encouraged to use constructivist techniques. This report focuses on the practicum course in which students met twice weekly in a discussion section and in a Macintosh-based computer lab. The stated objectives of the practicum were as follows. (a) To introduce students to appropriate technology. In this case, geometry, logic and fractal modeling software were made available. (b) To encourage ``active learning'', students were required to participate in problem solving, group discussions, and the presentation of a semester project. (c) To encourage awareness of learning styles and teaching styles, students were required to discuss and critique the teaching of faculty associated with the program. They were also required to write three papers on their own learning styles. (d) To encourage use of constructivist techniques, students were required to demonstrate their knowledge of a mathematical concept by researching its historical roots, experimenting with various problem solving techniques from an historical to modern perspective, and then presenting their findings to the class. Students were also required to apply the use of constructivist techniques in an actual classroom environment. (e) To develop professional contacts for the future, the program adopted a ``cohort'' model, suggested by Professor Uri Treisman, in which students take the mathematics courses required for certification as a group. They also had the opportunity to meet with outstanding high school teachers from the area. The success of the program is evaluated based upon faculty response, a Likert scale student survey, and student exit interviews.
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