Breaking with tradition : a study of Turkish student teachers' experiences within a Logo-based mathematical environment
A model course was designed to introduce a conceptual view of mathematics learning and teaching to a group of Turkish prospective mathematics teachers. Its purpose was to help them re-examine and break with their traditional views of mathematics learning and teaching. Distinctive aspects of the course included student task-based lessons, exploration and investigation, groupwork and discussion, and Logo-based project work. It provided the participants with a "micropractice" that involved experiencing new ways of approaching mathematics as both a learner and teacher. The purpose of the research was to obtain descriptive data on the group of participants in the context of this micropractice. The main analytical tasks of the study were: to identify what views and conceptions about mathematics and mathematics teaching the participants brought with them to the model course; to understand how they operationalised these views and conceptions during the course; and to examine whether this micropractice led them to reconstruct their prior experiences and develop new visions of mathematics learning and teaching more consistent with a conceptual view of mathematics rather than the procedural view which all held initially. The results of the study showed that participants: • held views about mathematics and mathematics teaching which were strongly influenced by broader beliefs and attitudes such as cultural world views and religion; • tended to develop more critical perspectives on their own experiences as learners; • were able to shift their views of the computer's role from electronic assistant to exploratory tool; • became more aware of the societal constraints on their teaching, and of the dilemmas they would encounter in the classroom. These results illustrate the educational dilemma of promoting a constructivist philosophy within an educational system based on a procedural view of mathematics and direct instructional methods. This dilemma is not necessarily the paradox it seems to be. Rather than being a destructive influence on prospective teachers' views of mathematics and mathematics teaching, the tension caused by this dilemma was useful as a means of breaking with traditional views and beliefs. Tensions in beliefs about mathematics and mathematics teaching acted as a mechanism which motivated reflectivity and personal growth and served to germinate new visions of learning and teaching mathematics.