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Mathematics teacher candidates’ evaluations of teaching and learning process in faculty of education

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Author(s): Savaş Baştürk

Journal: International Journal of Human Sciences
ISSN 1303-5134

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 58;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Teacher training | mathematics education | student teachers | master’s non-thesis program

ABSTRACT
With the new structure of educational faculties, student teachers began to complete first 3.5 years of their licence education (7 semesters) in science and art faculties by taking content knowledge courses and other 1.5 years (3 semesters) in educational faculties by taking pedagogical content knowledge and pedagogical courses (YOK, 1998). Undoubtedly, as every program has positive or negative sides, this new structure process is also criticised or appreciated. For example, the program has effects of the American and English educational systems (Baki, 1998) and that is why it is criticised by several educators. According to Aslan (2003), as the courses aim to provide general culture and the program is flexible, it is normal that content knowledge courses are taken in sciences and art faculties in the USA. However in Turkey, their courses aim at making specialists, so the program of science and art faculties is unnecessary and exorbitant for student teachers (Aslan, 2003). Some studies such as Yigit & Akdeniz (2004), Sarac (2006) and Basturk (2009) give support to this consideration by putting forward that student teachers’ process in science and art faculties negatively influences their attitudes toward profession of teaching and prevent them from feeling as a teacher. The new structure process is criticized through many aspects. However, unfortunately, there are a small number of researches that investigate the opinions of student teachers affected directly by this process (Alev & Yigit, 2006; Unsal, 2004; Ada et al., 2005; Gorgen & Deniz, 2003; Sırmaci & Gencdogan, 2007; Koc, 2007; Kavcar et al., 2007; Peker & Tambag, 2007; Saglam, Yuksel & Kara, 2007; Sahin & Balkar, 2007). In these studies, by means of Likert type questionnaires, opinions of student teachers of two programs (3.5+1.5 and 4+1.5) on some subjects are generally determined, for example, the duration, proficiency of providing teacher qualifications of the programs, student teachers’ main reasons in enrolling in the programs, their views on whether having a post as a teacher. Most of these studies also found out whether there are significant differences between the two different groups. Undoubtedly the results of these studies are very important and give important clues about the functioning of the process. But we think that the subject should be dealt with research having more qualitative aspects. This can provide completing results of the previous studies and better understanding of the details of the picture.In the light of what is introduced above, the aim of this study is to determine last year Secondary School Mathematics student teachers’ opinions related to their education in education faculty. All education to be given to student teachers during 5 years period should provide them with having positive attitudes and opinions towards the profession they do (Senemoglu & Ozcelik, 1989; Johnson & Howell, 2005). Determining student teachers’ opinions related to their education process in education faculty is quite important in the context of helping us understand their difficulties and obstacles. Most important missions of teacher training programs are to determinate how to train a well-qualified teacher, how to gain student teachers these abilities and to evaluate to what extend this project is succeeded. Therefore it can be supposed that the results of this study will contribute to the improvement of the education process in education faculty (Gurses et al., 2005).As it is known, numbers may allow us to understand how how many people behave but they cannot respond to the question “why”. Researches designed to understand the why of human and group’s behaviours are called qualitative research. Thus, in this study qualitative aspect is adopted. Therefore our main objective is to present a descriptive and realistic picture related to the research problem rather than have results which can be generalised by means of numbers. As we do not have generalization anxiety, the obtained results are limited to the student teachers sampled.The research was conducted with 36 last year student teachers studying in Department of Secondary School Mathematics Education of a state university located within the boundaries of Istanbul. These students completed their 3.5 years of education in science and art faculty and were at the last semester of 1.5 year education of master’s non-thesis program (10th semester). To gather data, a questionnaire composed of one open-ended question was administered. The student teachers who participated in the research were asked to write and submit a one or two pages reflection of their experiences related to education faculty. The issue they needed to address in the reflection paper was to evaluate the education process in education faculty in the context of courses, classroom applications, feedbacks given by lecturers and relations between student teachers and lecturers. Their written responses were examined and qualitatively analyzed for the common themes by means of qualitative analysis software. Firstly student teachers’ responses were classified and then categories and sub-categories were determined. These categories were always compared with each other and after that common categories were determined (Creswell, 1998). By taking into account relationships between them, categories and sub-categories were modelled. Frequencies and percentages were calculated and thus qualitative data were transformed into quantitative. To determine the inter-judge reliability of the open-ended question, data and categories were examined by the researcher and two experts from the department of Secondary School Mathematics Teacher Education. Disagreements between the experts were solved by discussing and so a great common agreement was provided on categories and coding (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). On the other hand the subjects were given rationale for their participation in the study. They were assured that their responses would be anonymous and confidential. As understood from the student teachers’ responses to the questionnaire, the education process in education faculty has some positive effects on student teachers. When they arrived in education faculty after 3.5 year of the science and art faculty education, the student teachers began to understand certain things which are important for teaching profession, to gain profession experiences and to understand student’s and teacher’s psychology. At the same time, their coming provides with feeling as a student teacher and so feeling of belonging. On the other hand, the student teachers consider the atmosphere of education faculty as more social than that of the science and art faculty.The student teachers’ opinions related to the content and organization of courses in education faculty also put forward some important information about the nature of formation given in this faculty. The student teachers criticised that courses were based on only student teachers’ presentations, i.e., student teachers present a topic in classroom by preparing slides of Power Point. According to some of them, in this way, only the student who makes the presentation may learn some things and this application is a bad interpretation of constructivism that favours student’s activeness in classroom. Other criticised points in this subject were as follows: courses were very theoretical and so included a small number of practice applications. Some lecturers organised courses to gather data for their own researches. Therefore the content of this kind of courses was undetermined and unnecessary for a student teacher. In general, lecturers of education faculty were considered by the student teachers as friendly, understanding, sincere. But lecturers’ academic anxieties had some negative reflexions on the organization of courses. For example, courses could be neglected on the pretext of scientific meetings and projects and the student teachers were forced in participating to research. On the other hand, although lecturers always told about constructivism and asked student teachers to be constructivist in teaching practices, they could not be a model for student teachers in this subject.Regarding the student teachers’ comments about homework, some of them argued that homework given by lecturers were too much and exhausting but considered homework as being useful and necessary for teaching profession. On the other hand insufficient or very general feedbacks, lacks of lecturers in mentoring and great differences between lecturers’ assessment approaches were in criticised points related to homework.

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