Preparing Teachers to Use Excelets: Developing Creative Modeling Experiences for Secondary Mathematics Students
There are many challenges in preparing mathematics teachers for today’s classrooms including content, pedagogy, technology, and creativity. This qualitative study was designed to examine how pre-service mathematics teachers solve modeling tasks using Excelets, an interactive form of an Excel spreadsheet that allows for the manipulation of data and the visualization of changes in numeric, graphic, and symbolic form (Sinex in Developer’s guide to Excelets: dynamic and interactive visualization with “Javaless” applets or interactive Excel spreadsheets, 2005). Specific emphasis was given to how such experiences translate into providing creative learning environments in future teaching. The study focused on four specific participants and analyzed their Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) scores (AMTE, 2009), “think-alouds”, and written work to assess their understanding of modeling tasks that integrated technology as a tool for learning. Top-tier participants demonstrated abilities to recognize, accept, adapt, and explore mathematics creatively when using and integrating mathematical modeling tools while bottom-tier participants failed to exhibit these skills. Top-tier participants demonstrated high levels of creativity and TPACK yet rated themselves low in these skills while bottom-tier participants provided little creativity and TPACK yet rated themselves extremely high. These results indicate that there is more work to be done in preparing teachers to provide students with stimulating mathematics problems and explorations while scaffolding their integration of technological tools such as Excel.
KeywordsSecondary preservice teachers Modeling Creativity Excelets TPACK
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