This study explores the attitudes of mathematics pre-service teachers, based on their initial exposure to a model-eliciting challenge. The new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement determines that mathematics students should be able to identify, investigate and solve problems via modelling. The unpreparedness of mathematics teachers in teaching modelling is widely recognised. Modelling was thus included for the first time in the mathematics education curriculum of a South African university.
Material and methods:
The investigation was conducted from a post-positivist stance, allowing for engagement between the researchers and the participants, via a questionnaire. The participants were a convenient sample of 50 Grade 10 to 12 mathematics pre-service teachers, in their third year of study at the University of Johannesburg in 2015.
Most of the participants enjoyed and valued the model-eliciting activity, and are motivated to further their modelling competencies. However, almost half the group still lack confidence in handling model-eliciting challenges. Females and participants who score below 70% in mathematics, displayed less conducive attitudes towards modelling, than male or higher achieving participants.
Mathematics teachers should acquire modelling competencies during their formal education. It can be effected via an appropriate modelling pedagogy, which enhance their content knowledge, shape their pedagogical knowledge, and build their confidence.