Graduate Studies in Mathematics Education for Elementary School
Program chair: Prof. Perla Nesher
Program coordinator: Dr. Ronit Hoffman
Steering committee: Prof. Perla Nesher, Dr. Ronit Klein, Dr. Ruthi Steinberg, Dr. Ronit Hoffman
The last few decades have seen changes in mathematics instruction in many countries, based on research about how students think, the difficulties they encounter in learning math, new educational and psychological approaches and the integration of computers into education systems. The findings of these studies have given rise to a new discipline of mathematics education, which is rapidly developing with the support of further research and professional literature.
In today's changing world with its constant advances in computer and communication technology, learning mathematics is more important than ever. Therefore we must strive to ensure that students acquire extensive knowledge in this field, enabling them to integrate into the world of work and meet the demands of the 21st century. It is also essential to develop pedagogical approaches for teaching the subject of math to the entire population of learners – advanced, average and special needs students alike.
The master's degree program in Mathematics Education trains students in the new trends in mathematics instruction, with emphasis on expertise in teaching mathematics based on research findings, and on developing problem-solving skills, investigative approaches, understanding mathematics, visual and spatial cognition, engaging in data analysis and integration of computers in teaching math. Coupled with professionalization, technological developments and the access to calculators and computers are enabling today's teachers to focus on developing mathematical thinking in addition to calculation skills as early as elementary school. Accordingly, it is important to teach and encourage teachers to use computers in mathematics classes in diverse ways, at all stages of learning. In order to achieve these goals it is necessary to have a broad, intensive master's degree program in teaching mathematics for elementary school. Such studies should enrich the knowledge of mathematics instructors and produce a cadre of experienced and professional, academically trained teachers who have the ability to lead changes that will enable schools to meet these challenges.
The master's program in Mathematics Education for Elementary School is intended to provide a response to this need on the graduate level. It is designed for teachers with bachelor's degrees in mathematics education or in mathematics with teaching certificates who wish to expand their knowledge and become leaders in the field of mathematics education in elementary schools. The program enriches the students' knowledge in mathematics as well as mathematics pedagogy, including the important role of computers in instruction. In addition, the teachers studying in the program become familiar with state-of-the-art research in the field of elementary school mathematics education. These studies contribute to the understanding of cognitive, emotional and developmental factors involved in developing mathematical thinking, increasing motivation to learn math and difficulties that elementary school children have with this subject. Mathematics education is a relatively new field of research; it is important for teachers to become acquainted with it and use the findings to develop and improve the teaching of this subject to the entire population.
The aims of the Mathematic Education for Elementary School master's degree program are:
1. In mathematics for elementary school teachers:
- To deepen the mathematics education of elementary school teachers. In the program, teachers trained in teaching mathematics on the undergraduate level will increase their knowledge of mathematics and learn new aspects, at a higher level.
- To increase the students' knowledge of the computer and its relationship to mathematics, and their acquaintance with diverse means for including the computer in elementary school teaching.
2. In mathematics education
- To increase the students' familiarity with research on mathematics education that is now at the forefront of the field worldwide. The students learn to conduct research based on knowledge acquired in the program and their teaching experience.
- To increase the pedagogical education in mathematics, particularly with regard to teaching processes, learning processes and teacher guidance, with a focus on psychological-didactic approaches to learning and teaching mathematics. Special emphasis is placed on emotional aspects and ways to teach different types of groups and heterogeneous classes.
- To develop professional knowledge of the subject of mathematical thinking and become familiar with different thinking styles and types of thinking that characterize the mathematics profession and those involved in it.
- To deepen knowledge of the cognitive and developmental aspects of children. Here the focus is on the cognitive development of children regarding mathematics, based on familiarity with their way of thinking and applying this knowledge in teaching.
3. In education and methodology:
- To further knowledge about education.
- To further knowledge in the fields of assessment and research methodology.