Supporting Mathematics Teacher Educators’ Practices for Facilitating Prospective Teachers’ Mathematical Explanations in Content Courses

Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Journal Title

The Mathematics Enthusiast

Publication Date



The push for more student-generated explanations in K-8 mathematics classrooms, together with prospective teachers’ well-documented weaknesses in both providing adequate explanation and appreciating what constitutes a sound mathematical explanation, points to the need for more experiences for prospective teachers to formulate explanations of mathematical ideas before asking them to facilitate students’ explanations. Creating experiences for prospective teachers to wrestle with challenging mathematics and learn to elicit, develop, and evaluate mathematical explanations is a responsibility of mathematics teacher educators (MTEs) who teach content courses for teachers. Our work considers MTEs’ practices that encourage prospective elementary teachers to construct and critique explanations. Through examination of data from a professional development designed for MTEs, we identified what aspects of prospective elementary teachers’ mathematical explanations MTEs attended to while observing and discussing a math content course for prospective elementary teachers. From this study we identified five MTE practices that provide opportunities to engage PSTs in constructing mathematical explanations. Specific strategies for MTEs to implement these practices are shared and related dilemmas are discussed.


The definitive version of this open access article is available on ScholarWorks from the Mansfield Library at the University of Montana: https://scholarworks.umt.edu/tme/.

Publisher Statement

The Mathematics Enthusiast (TME) is an eclectic internationally circulated peer reviewed journal which focuses on mathematics content, mathematics education research, innovation, interdisciplinary issues and pedagogy.

TME strives to promote equity internationally by adopting an open access policy, as well as allowing authors to retain full copyright of their scholarship contingent on the journals’ publication ethics guidelines. Authors do not need to be affiliated with the University of Montana in order to publish in this journal.