Formatively assessing prospective teachers' skills in leading mathematics discussions

Educ Stud Math. 2021;108(3):451-472. doi: 10.1007/s10649-021-10070-z. Epub 2021 Jul 1.


Mathematics discussions are important for helping students to develop conceptual understanding and to learn disciplinary norms and practices. In recent years, there has been increased attention to teaching prospective teachers to lead discussions with students. This paper examines the possibilities of designing a formative assessment that gathers information about prospective elementary teachers' skills with leading problem-based mathematics discussions and makes sense of such information. A decomposition of the practice of leading discussions was developed and used to design the assessment. Nine first-year teachers who graduated from a range of different teacher education programs participated in the study. The findings reveal that our formative assessment works to gather information about teachers' capabilities with leading discussions and that the associated tools support making sense of the information gathered. This suggests that such tools could be useful to support the formative assessment of the developing capabilities of prospective teachers.

Keywords: Assessment; Mathematics discussion; Practice-based teacher education; Prospective teachers; Teacher education.