Viewing Mathematics in New Ways: Can Electronic Learning Communities Assist?
AbstractProspective primary school teachers often see mathematics as being a rigid, inaccessible subject. Their fixed ideas about the nature of mathematics and mathematics education can often impede their learning, and future teaching. This paper considers research literature which suggests that a learning community can be a powerful agent in helping students reflect on their own beliefs, and that computer mediated conferencing tools can be effective in developing an electronic learning community. The paper goes on to investigate a web-based intervention that encouraged dialogue about mathematics between an international community of mathematics educators and the student teachers' local learning community. Data from two surveys and from the students' reflective journals show that this intervention encouraged them to examine and evaluate their own beliefs. In addition, some of the factors that inhibited the effects of the intervention are identified and discussed, in particular, the influence of the practicum on students' beliefs.