Preservice Mathematics Teachers' Perspectives of Mathematics Tasks during a Mathematical Letter Writing Exchange
The author interviewed participants individually and conducted a focus group interview with three preservice mathematics teachers (PSMTs) attending a southern university in this interpretive case study. The author also gathered the PSMTs' final reflection papers related to a mathematical letter writing exchange (MLWE) in which they participated. The research questions were: What were the PSMTs' perceptions of value after participating in a MLWE with high school students? How did PSMTs' thinking about the qualities of a good mathematical task evolve as they participated in a MLWE? For this study, the author used open coding and inductively analyzed the interviews. In comparison, directed content analysis guided analysis of the papers, letters, and mathematical tasks to determine the PSMTs' perceived value of the MLWE experience. PSMTs should form strong relationships with students to help build students' confidence in doing mathematics. Also, explicit and implicit structures existed in the descriptions of a good mathematical task. For example, the participants reported they needed to find or create mathematical tasks that matched their penpals' interests. Additionally, one intrinsic theme indicated that preservice teachers should consistently prioritize mathematics in their feedback and discussions with students. Finally, the findings built off of prior literature surrounding MLWEs. This will help future PSMTs become more successful in their future teaching practices.