Original Research

Self-reported mathematical problem-solving skills of future mathematics teachers

Kathleen Fonseca
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 11, No 1 | a1011 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v11i1.1011 | © 2021 Kathleen Fonseca | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 March 2021 | Published: 22 October 2021

About the author(s)

Kathleen Fonseca, Department of Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: During their university studies, student teachers are equipped for the teaching profession in various domains of knowledge and practice. In addition to learning pedagogic skills for practice purposes, they also expand their knowledge of the subjects that they will teach. In mathematics teacher education, one important principle is that the content of the subject must, somehow, be fused with the pedagogy in what has become known as mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT). Although several studies have been conducted about students’ performance of MKT, there is little research in South Africa about how students routinely experience the coursework itself. In this study, I argue that mathematics knowledge and skills should ideally precede the teaching of pedagogy, for reasons of communicating the concepts clearly and for building a foundation of mathematical thinking prior to practising teaching skills.

Aim: To find out what the student teachers’ self-reported experience of one component of a mathematics content course are, namely their engagement with problem-solving tasks.

Methods: A qualitative case study of student teachers’ learning, with the primary source of data, the student teachers’ reflective journal entries. Data were analysed through coding, categorising and thematised mindful of the MPSKT framework.

Results: The findings indicated that, whilst the students’ understanding of the processes of problem-solving was deepened during the course, matters of pedagogy arose spontaneously.


initial teacher education; mathematics content courses; mathematical problem-solving; student teachers; mathematical knowledge for teaching


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