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Pre-service physics teachers’ developing views on the role of mathematics in the teaching and learning of physics

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title> jats:pThis qualitative, questionnaire and interview-based study explores how pre-service physics teachers think about the role that mathematics plays in the teaching and learning of physics at university and school level and whether these views change during their pre-service teacher education. Many of the pre-service teachers were aware of the complex relationship between these two subjects at university level, noting that success in mathematics can often mask a lack of conceptual understanding in physics and that there can be a disconnect between the physics and mathematical aspects of undergraduate courses. At school level, many stressed the importance of a focus on conceptual understanding and that technical competence in mathematics lessons does not always transfer to physics lessons. Almost all the pre-service physics teachers changed their views during the year, often in response to their classroom experiences. As they became more attuned to the difficulties students faced with respect to the mathematical challenges involved in learning physics, many took a more pragmatic position that balanced the role of mathematics in physics with acceptance that they must respond to student needs. We suggest that these changing views can be framed in terms of two jats:italicre-orientations</jats:italic>. A disciplinary re-orientation where the role that mathematics plays in order to be successful in physics is reassessed, and a pedagogical re-orientation that attends to pragmatic, teaching considerations. We recommend that direct attention to the role of mathematics in school physics should be an integral part of pre-service physics teacher education in order to encourage these re-orientations.</jats:p>



3901 Curriculum and Pedagogy, 3903 Education Systems, 39 Education, 4 Quality Education

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Physics Education

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IOP Publishing