Promoting Writing in Mathematics: Prospective Teachers’ Experiences and Perspectives on the Process of Writing When Doing Mathematics as Problem Solving
Despite a great deal of research on the benefits of writing in mathematics, writing plays a minimal role, if any, in secondary and tertiary mathematics education. In order for teachers to use writing in their classrooms, they themselves have to experience writing mathematics within the teacher education programme. The present paper reports on a study aimed at addressing this gap. In a problem-solving seminar, preservice teachers had an opportunity to experience writing in mathematics and report how this affected their problem-solving processes and shaped their attitudes towards incorporating writing in their classrooms. In order to provide a more detailed description of the phenomenon, four participants were chosen based on their beliefs about mathematics. All of the participants struggled with writing their explanations. Those who used writing as a method to support metacognitive processes while exploring mathematics tended to respond positively to the writing process. The others used writing merely as a method to produce a formal document to be evaluated by the instructor. Consequently, those who viewed writing and doing mathematics as an intertwined process expressed a positive attitude towards using writing in their mathematics classroom. This was, unfortunately, not the case when writing and doing mathematics were seen as two separate processes. Implications for teacher education programmes are presented at the end of the report.
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