Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Dr Susan Swars Auslander

Second Advisor

Dr Lynn C Hart

Third Advisor

Dr Margo Alexander

Fourth Advisor

Dr Kimberly White-Fredette


The widespread adoption in the U.S. of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (NGA/CCSSO, 2010) provides an unparalleled opportunity for systemic changes in mathematics education. Central to successful implementation of these standards is well-qualified teachers of mathematics, with university mathematics courses serving as a key context for teacher development of content knowledge, problem-solving skills, and productive beliefs. One potential means of developing mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) and mathematics self-efficacy of prospective elementary teachers (PTs) is through a promising pedagogical tool called the Singapore Modeling Method ([SMM], Ministry of Education, Singapore, 1997). A pictorial method for a wide variety of mathematics word problems, the SMM uses rectangular bars to represent either known or unknown quantities. However, the use and study of the SMM during university mathematics courses are very limited. Hence, this study is guided by these research questions: (1) Does prospective elementary teachers' MKT change during a Foundations of Number and Operations course that uses the SMM? (2) Do prospective elementary teachers' mathematics self-efficacy beliefs change during a Foundations of Number and Operations course that uses the SMM? and (3) How do prospective elementary teachers describe changes, particularly in their MKT and mathematics self-efficacy beliefs, during a Foundations of Number and Operations course that uses the SMM? Using a SMM intervention, the study explored if changes occurred in PTs’ MKT and mathematics self-efficacy. The context for the study was an Early Childhood and Elementary Education (ECEE) Foundations of Number and Operations class at a large, urban university in the Southeastern U.S. Participants included 32 elementary PTs completing the course as a requirement for their ECEE major. An explanatory mixed methods design was used, with quantitative data collected via three MKT assessments and a self-efficacy beliefs survey administered before and after the SMM intervention. Qualitative data were collected via semi-structured, individual interviews of a random sample of six participants with the aim of illuminating quantitative findings. Data were also collected via student artifacts. The findings of this study provide insights into the effectiveness of the SMM as a means of elementary PT development in university mathematics courses.