I Just Wouldn’t Want to Get as Deep Into It”: Preservice Teachers’ Beliefs about the Role of Controversial Topics in Mathematics Education

Ksenija Simic-Muller, Anthony Fernandes, Mathew D. Felton-Koestler


In this article, the authors report on the initial results of a mixed methods approach to study the beliefs that preservice teachers have about teaching real-world contexts, including those related to injustices, controversial issues, and children’s home and cultural backgrounds. Data collection included a survey with 92 preservice Pre-K–8 teachers, and follow-up interviews with nine survey participants. Analysis of the data suggests that preservice teachers were open to the idea of teaching mathematics through real-world contexts, but were ambivalent regarding the use of controversial issues, and often unable to provide concrete or non-trivial examples of what these different types of real-world contexts would look like in a mathematics classroom. Based on the survey and interview findings, the authors make recommendations for future research, and for the use of controversial issues in teacher education programs.


preservice teacher beliefs, real-world contexts, social justice, teacher education

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