Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 577–601 | Cite as

Exploring iconic interpretation and mathematics teacher development through clinical simulations

  • Benjamin Dotger
  • Joanna Masingila
  • Mary Bearkland
  • Sharon Dotger


Field placements serve as the traditional ‘clinical’ experience for prospective mathematics teachers to immerse themselves in the mathematical challenges of students. This article reports data from a different type of learning experience, that of a clinical simulation with a standardized individual. We begin with a brief background on medical education’s long-standing use of standardized patients, and the recent diffusion of clinical simulations to teacher and school leader preparation contexts. Then, we describe a single mathematics simulation and report data from prospective mathematics teachers’ interactions with a standardized student on the issue of iconic interpretation. Findings highlight teachers’ diagnostic, explanatory, mathematical, and instructional repertoires, as they guide a standardized student through two different graphing problems. Implications focus on the trends in teachers’ instructional decisions, contextualized explanations, and the use of clinical simulations to enhance mathematics teacher development.


Clinical simulation Iconic interpretation Mathematics teacher education Teacher development 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the National Science Foundation’s Discovery Research K-12 (DR-K12) program for its support of this research (Award #1118772). The perspectives represented in this manuscript are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views or opinions of the National Science Foundation. Additionally, the authors acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of three JMTE reviewers and their contributions to refining this article.


  1. Arcavi, A. (2003). The role of visual representations in the learning of mathematics. Educational studies in mathematics, 52, 215–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrows, H. S. (1987). Simulated (standardized) patients and other human simulations: A comprehensive guide to their training and use in teaching and evaluation. Chapel Hill, NC: Health Sciences Consortium.Google Scholar
  3. Barrows, H. S. (2000). Problem-based learning applied to medical education. Springfield: Southern Illinois University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Barrows, H. S., & Abrahmson, S. (1964). The programmed patient: A technique for appraising student performance in clinical neurology. Journal of Medical Education, 39, 802–805.Google Scholar
  5. Borko, H., Jacobs, J., Eiteljorg, E., & Pittman, M. E. (2008). Video as a tool for fostering productive discussions in mathematics professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28, 417–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clermont, C., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1993). The influence of an intensive in-service workshop on pedagogical content knowledge growth among novice chemical demonstrators. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 30(1), 21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Coplan, B., Essary, A. C., Lohenry, K., & Stoehr, J. D. (2008). An update on the utilization of standardized patients in physician assistant education. The Journal of Physician Assistant Education, 19(4), 14–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dotger, B. (2011). From know how to do now: Instructional applications of simulated interactions within teacher education. Teacher Education and Practice, 24(2), 132–148.Google Scholar
  10. Dotger, B. (2013). “I had no idea!”: Clinical simulations for teacher development. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Dotger, B. (2014). Core pedagogy: Individual uncertainty, shared practice, formative ethos. Article submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  12. Francisco, J. M., & Maher, C. A. (2011). Teachers attending to students’ mathematical reasoning: Lessons from an after-school research program. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 14, 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grossman, P., Compton, C., Igra, D., Ronfeldt, M., Shahan, E., & Williamson, P. (2009). Teaching practice: A cross-professional perspective. Teachers College Record, 111(9), 2055–2100.Google Scholar
  14. Hauer, K. E., Hodgson, C. S., Kerr, K. M., Teherani, A., & Irby, D. M. (2005). A national study of medical student clinical skills assessment. Academic Medicine, 80(10), S25–S29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jacobs, V. R., Lamb, L. L. C., & Phillip, R. A. (2010). Professional noticing of children’s mathematical thinking. Journal of Research in Mathematics Education, 41(2), 169–202.Google Scholar
  16. Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. Geslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research (pp. 347–380). New York: Rand McNally.Google Scholar
  17. Korthagen, F. A., & Kessels, J. P. (1999). Linking theory and practice: Changing the pedagogy of teacher education. Educational Researcher, 28(4), 4–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lebow, D. (1993). Constructivist values for systems design: Five principles toward a new mindset. Educational Technology Research and Development, 41, 4–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Magnusson, S., Krajcik, J., & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In J. Gess-Newsome & N. G. Lederman (Eds.), PCK and science education (pp. 95–132). Dordrecht: Klewer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  21. Masingila, J. O., & Doerr, H. M. (2002). Understanding pre-service teachers’ emerging practices through their analyses of a multimedia case study of practice. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 5, 235–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self, and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Monk, S. (2003). Representation in school mathematics: Learning to graph and graphing to learn. In J. Kilpatrick, W. G. Martin, & D. Schifter (Eds.), A research companion to principles and standards for school mathematics (pp. 250–262). Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.Google Scholar
  24. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common core state standards for mathematics. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.Google Scholar
  25. Piaget, J. (1959). Logic and psychology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Putnam, R., & Borko, H. (2000). What do new views of knowledge and thinking have to say about research on teacher learning? Educational Researcher, 29(1), 4–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reiman, A. J., & Peace, S. D. (2002). Promoting teachers’ moral reasoning and collaborative inquiry performance: A developmental role-taking and guided inquiry study. Journal of Moral Education, 31(1), 51–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Santagata, R., & Guarino, J. (2011). Using video to teach future teachers to learn from teaching. ZDM: The International Journal of Mathematics Education, 43, 133–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sherin, M. G., Russ, R. S., & Colestock, A. A. (2011). Accessing mathematics teachers’ in-the-moment noticing. In M. G. Sherin, V. R. Jacobs, & R. A. Philipp (Eds.), Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers’ eyes (pp. 79–94). New York: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  30. Shulman, L. S. (2005). The signature pedagogies of the professions of law, medicine, engineering, and the clergy: Potential lessons for the education of teachers. Speech presented at the Math Science Partnership (MSP) Workshop: “Teacher Education for Effective Teaching and Learning”. Irvine, CA.Google Scholar
  31. von Glasersfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese, 80(1), 121–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wilson, S. M., Floden, R. E., & Ferrini-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher preparation research: Current knowledge, gaps, and recommendations. Report prepared for the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin Dotger
    • 1
  • Joanna Masingila
    • 2
  • Mary Bearkland
    • 3
  • Sharon Dotger
    • 4
  1. 1.Teaching and LeadershipSyracuse University School of EducationSyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Mathematics EducationSyracuse University School of EducationSyracuseUSA
  3. 3.Science TeachingSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  4. 4.Teaching and Leadership, Science TeachingSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations