Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching in Planning and Evaluating Instruction: What Can Preservice Teachers Learn?

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  • 1 University of Delaware
  • 2 Towson University

The goal of this study is to uncover the successes and challenges that preservice teachers are likely to experience as they unpack lesson-level mathematical learning goals (i.e., identify the subconcepts and subskills that feed into target learning goals). Unpacking learning goals is a form of specialized mathematical knowledge for teaching, an essential starting point for studying and improving one's teaching. Thirty K–8 preservice teachers completed 4 written tasks. Each task specified a learning goal and then asked the preservice teachers to complete a teaching activity with this goal in mind. For example, preservice teachers were asked to evaluate whether a student's responses to a series of mathematics problems showed understanding of decimal number addition. The results indicate that preservice teachers can identify mathematical subconcepts of learning goals in supportive contexts but do not spontaneously apply a strategy of unpacking learning goals to plan for, or evaluate, teaching and learning. Implications for preservice education are discussed.

Contributor Notes

Anne K. Morris, School of Education, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716;

James Hiebert, School of Education, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716;

Sandy M. Spitzer, Department of Mathematics, Towson University, 7800 York Road, Towson, MD 21252;

(Corresponding author is Morris author is Hiebert author is Spitzer
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education


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