Exploring the Impact of a Teacher Education Program on the Mathematical Anxieties of Elementary Pre-Service Teachers
Mathematics education in Ontario has been a topic of significant focus in recent years. One concern is the lack of strong elementary mathematics teachers, in part due to the high levels of mathematics anxiety amongst this population (Gresham, 2007; Novak & Tassell, 2017). This study investigated the impact of a teacher education program on elementary pre-service teachers’ mathematical anxieties. The study examined the main components of a consecutive teacher education program, namely mathematics methods courses and field experiences, their interrelationships, and their connections with pre-service teachers’ background experiences. This explanatory sequential mixed methods approach emphasized qualitative methods (i.e., quan → QUAL) and involved two distinct phases. In Phase 1, quantitative questionnaire data were collected from the nine elementary pre-service teacher participants and analyzed using descriptive statistics. These results were then connected to the individual interview protocols employed in Phase 2 to collect qualitative data, which were analyzed thematically using the constant comparative method to uncover six themes: (a) prior experiences with mathematics, (b) anxieties towards mathematics, (c) the influence of mathematics methods courses on mathematical anxieties, (d) the influence of field experiences on mathematical anxieties, (e) the synthesis of mathematics methods courses and field experiences, and (f) anticipated future mathematics teaching style. This study’s results address gaps in the existing literature and highlight the key impacts of teacher education programs on pre-service teachers’ state and trait mathematical anxieties. Suggestions are provided for the practice of teacher educators, faculty administrators, and mentor teachers, as well as implications for theory and recommendations for future research.