This is the summary of a presentation given at the Joint Mathematics
Meetings, January 10-13, 1996, Orlando, Florida.
Changing the mathematics courses for elementary teachers:
At the University of Kansas, preservice elementary teachers take a 2-course
sequence of 6 semester hours in the Department of Mathematics. The first course
focuses on number systems and algebra; the second focuses on geometry,
probability, and statistics. Particular features of the course that promote
active learning are a weekly 2-hour lab, group problem solving, and writing
activities. In the lab, taught by an elementary teacher from the local school
district, students have hands-on experience with different manipulatives
models for mathematical concepts and as tools for exploring mathematical ideas.
Such experiences engage students in new ways to look at concepts and serve to
strengthen conceptual and procedural understanding by helping students develop
links between concrete models sad abstract concepts. Students have said that
work with manipulatives in the lab helps them see a different view of
mathematics, often one different from what they experienced themselves. Problem
solving is usually conducted weekly in small group settings during the lecture
time. The experiences are designed to improve students' confidence in their
problem-solving skills and to broaden their experiences with different types of
problems, including many which have more than one correct solution and solution
strategy Students engage in writing activities and projects in both the lecture
and the lab. Some projects are completed individually while others are extended
group problem-solving activities. These experiences serve to broaden students'
ideas of assessment by giving them experiences with a variety of ways to assess
mathematical knowledge and to allow them to express their own knowledge of
mathematics in various ways.
Dr. Susan Gay
Department of Mathematics
405 Snow Hall
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045