A primary teacher needs mathematical problem solving ability. That is why Dutch student teachers have to show this ability in a nationwide mathematics test that contains many non-routine problems. Most student teachers prepare for this test by working on their own solving test-like problems. To what extent does these individual problem solving activities really contribute to their mathematical problem solving ability? Developing mathematical problem solving ability requires reflective mathematical behaviour. Student teachers need to mathematize and generalize problems and problem approaches, and evaluate heuristics and problem solving processes. This demands self-confidence, motivation, cognition and metacognition. To what extent do student teachers show reflective behaviour during mathematical self-study and how can we explain their study behaviour?
In this study 97 student teachers from seven different teacher education institutes worked on ten non-routine problems. They were motivated because the test-like problems gave them an impression of the test and enabled them to investigate whether they were already prepared well enough. This study also shows that student teachers preparing for the test were not focused on developing their mathematical problem solving ability. They did not know that this was the goal to strive for and how to aim for it. They lacked self-confidence and knowledge to mathematize problems and problem approaches, and to evaluate the problem solving process. These results indicate that student teachers do hardly develop their mathematical problem solving ability in self-study situations. This leaves a question for future research: What do student teachers need to improve their mathematical self-study behaviour?
EAPRIL Proceedings, November 29 – December 1, 2017, Hämeenlinna, Finland