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Abstract

Research indicates that mathematics anxiety is particularly high in pre-service teachers (Bekdemir, 2010; Gresham, 2007; Hembree, 1990). These future teachers will soon be entering classrooms of their own, responsible for teaching mathematics to young children, who need strong teachers. A 2013 report from The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), found that 42% fourth-graders performed at or above the proficient level in math (NCES, 2013. The purpose of this study was to examine elementary pre-service teacher candidates (PSTCs) perceptions of mathematics, through drawings. Drawings were analyzed before and after a semester-long field experience in a constructivist mathematics environment. The participants included 56 PSTCs with a field placement in K-5 settings. The researcher used open-coding to evaluate the pre- and post-field experience drawings. Three overarching themes emerged from the data: (1) emotions related to mathematics, (2) the mathematics environment, and (3) experiences within the mathematics environment. Over the course of the field experience semester, the number of negative and isolated perceptions of mathematics decreased. The results of the study hold implications for teacher preparation programs in planning field experience placements for their teacher candidates. Purposeful field placements can allow PSTCs to evaluate and inform their own understanding of mathematics, and learn pedagogical strategies to benefit their future students.

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