School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Billie J. Holubz


Mathematical Experiences, Mathematical Perceptions, Mathematics Experiences, Mathematics Methods Courses, Pre-Service Elementary School Teachers, Pre-Service Teachers


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Science and Mathematics Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to examine the perceptions about mathematics of pre-service elementary school teachers at a small private university in the Midwestern United States. The theoretical framework used for this research study came from Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory, including the component of teacher efficacy. Because mathematics is a fundamental subject for students to develop skills necessary for various 21st century careers, this qualitative phenomenological study sought to examine how pre-service teachers perceived their ability and confidence to teach mathematics. I limited the choice of participants to elementary pre-service teachers who had not yet completed any mathematics methods courses, because there was a gap in the literature for this population. I used individual interviews, focus group meetings, and a visualization activity as my methods of data collection. The data collected from this study illuminated 3 common themes: factors that positively influenced mathematical perceptions, factors that negatively influenced mathematical perceptions, and attitudes generated toward mathematics as the result of experiences. Factors such as hands-on/visual activities, teacher support, and thorough explanations of mathematical concepts created positive perceptions, whereas ineffective teacher instruction, progression of advanced mathematical concepts leading to frustration, and feelings of intimidation about asking questions and attending help sessions created negative mathematical perceptions. Positive or negative perceptions shaped each participant’s attitudes toward mathematics, and future research must examine how pre-service teachers may be best prepared to learn and utilize effective teaching practices and develop confidence to teach mathematics as future educators.