Beyond Traditional Teacher Preparation: Value-Add Experiences for Preservice Secondary Mathematics Teachers

Paula M Jakopovic, Kelly Gomez-Johnson


The current pool of highly qualified secondary mathematics teachers is woefully inadequate to address the needs of schools across the United States and other countries internationally. In STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) areas, providing quality instruction in a changing world requires continuous change and innovation as programs prepare and train teachers. University teacher preparation programs wrestle with ways to provide wider professional experiences (WPE) within social learning environments called communities of practice (CoP). This qualitative study examines a university-led undergraduate scholarship program, aimed at recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified secondary preservice mathematics teacher candidates. With increased exposure to mathematics content, mathematical teaching pedagogy, and community outreach beyond traditional preparation requirements, the goal of the study is to determine the immediate and potential value participants, undergraduate students, found engaging in a unique, CoP-based program. Findings reveal that participants concurrently reported both immediate and potential value in teaching experiences and ideas even when engaging in more mathematics or indirect teaching environments. Further, while mentoring is a key feature of the program, participants rarely identified mentoring or faculty support as an immediate or potential value although mentors were often the conduit for participants’ engagement in WPE.


Teacher Preparation, Mathematics Education, Communities of Practice, Value

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