FEELING PREPARED TO TEACH: RETHINKING THEORY THROUGH EXPERIENCED MATHEMATICS TEACHERS’ PERSPECTIVES

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2023

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Abstract

Researchers study teachers’ feelings of preparedness to teach for various purposes; it can serve as an indicator of the effectiveness of initial teacher preparation and is often equated to teacher self-efficacy. Despite being an object of study for several decades, the theory on teachers’ feelings of preparedness to teach is under-developed and the field lacks a shared understanding of what it should entail. This dissertation includes three stand-alone studies that highlight and address some gaps and assumptions in the literature on teachers’ feelings of preparedness to teach. The first article draws on interviews with ten experienced mathematics teachers to examine their descriptions of preparedness and build toward a definition of feelings of preparedness. These descriptions suggest two layers of preparedness: a static/provisioning layer and a dynamic/ambitious layer. The second article uses episodic interviews with six of the ten experienced teachers to investigate their feelings of (un)preparedness when they abruptly transitioned to online teaching. It shows that the online context, and not necessarily web-based technology, was the likely culprit for teachers feeling unprepared for online teaching. The third article builds a theoretical framework based on a review of 39 quantitative studies in the literature on teachers’ feelings of preparedness to teach. This framework is mapped visually with three columns, constructs that are theorized to predict feelings of preparedness, the preparedness constructs themselves, and constructs that feelings of preparedness may predict. These three studies come together to propose a reconceptualization of survey instruments and quantitative analysis for this topic. The static and dynamic layers of preparedness may help differentiate between the work and expectations of new teachers and experienced teachers and may have implications for both preparation programs and researchers. Contextual changes or disruptions, described in the second paper, can impact even experienced teachers, which may elevate the importance of school contexts in future analyses of teachers’ feelings of preparedness. The framework maps out where the field has been and proposes update considerations to survey items specific to teachers’ feelings of preparedness to teach.

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