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The adoption of a pre-teach approach for HE ITE 

Lewis, Fay; Witt, Marcus; Wilkinson, Amanda


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Dr Fay Lewis
Senior Lecturer in Mathematics

Marcus Witt
Senior Lecturer in Primary & Early Years Mathematics

Amanda Wilkinson
Senior Lecturer in Primary/Early Years Initial Teacher Education


This work focusses on pre-service teacher learning of curriculum subject knowledge content.

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) has trialled a pre-teaching approach to address mathematical subject knowledge and anxiety with children. This involves teaching learners who are identified as having weaker subject knowledge for a short time preceding a main teaching session. It aims to improve understanding of underpinning mathematical concepts and vocabulary so that learners can engage with the main teaching session on par with peers. Findings from these trials show that confidence and self-awareness also increase (NCETM 2017; ATM 2018).

A lack of mathematical subject knowledge and confidence are prevalent with pre-service primary teachers (Rowland 2010; Miao & Reynolds 2017) with such challenges potentially increasing further due to the disruption caused by Covid and the removal of the Qualified Teacher Status Professional Skills tests. This not only poses a threat to the ability of the pre-service teachers to teach mathematical content, but also their ability to participate fully in pedagogical focussed teaching sessions within their ITE programmes.

This paper reports findings from an evaluative study that adopts such an approach, utilising pre-teaching episodes focussed on underlying concepts and vocabulary which could be used and applied in subsequent pedagogically- focussed sessions. Pre- and post- assessments were carried out to evaluate the impact of participation on perceived levels of subject knowledge and participatory self-efficacy of pre-service teachers (i.e. their ability to engage in, and make sense of teaching and learning in subsequent sessions). Qualitative analysis explored reasons for any changes, and the implications for wider uptake and scaling of the pre-teaching.

Findings indicate that immersing pre-service teachers in pre-teach activities may provide opportunities to increase perceived levels of subject knowledge and participatory self-efficacy. In exploring which aspects of the experience of pre-teaching may have contributed to these changes, the data suggests that establishing a ‘community of practice’ may have been beneficial. However, the findings also indicated that several factors such as: the selection criteria for those attending the pre-teaching; the consideration of the precise nature of the key concept covered, and a range of logistical considerations would require further exploration if the approach were to be more widely adopted. Incorporating pre-teaching approaches into ITE may provide opportunities to improve participants’ subject knowledge and to also shape positive dispositions towards maths. Further evaluations of how this can be built into teacher education programmes are therefore required.

Presentation Conference Type Presentation / Talk
Conference Name TEAN Conference 2023
Start Date May 11, 2023
End Date May 12, 2023
Deposit Date May 23, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 23, 2023
Keywords Subject knowledge, Teacher education, Pre-teach, mathematics, HE, ITE
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