Article

Using Field Trips to Create Relevant Social Justice Informed Mathematics Lessons in an Elementary Teacher Education Program: An Action Research Study

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Abstract

Teaching mathematics for social justice is a rich research area in which field trips have been under-examined. The paucity of literature on math-based field trips for social justice, specifically, warrants further investigation. This action research study aims to improve our practice of empowering elementary preservice teachers to design math-based field trips to enhance student awareness of social justice issues. Two research questions (RQ) guided this project: (RQ1) How can teacher educators inspire social change within math education via the preparation of future elementary teachers using math-based field trips? (RQ2) What are preservice teachers' perceptions of designing socially just math lessons using field trips? We provide an overview of previous literature, describe the project we designed, and provide an analysis of preservice teachers' experiences and perceptions of this project. Thematic analysis of student journals and final assignments generated eight overarching themes and three subordinate themes organized by three phases. Organization by phases indicates a structural approach that teacher educators may use when introducing a similar activity. Further analysis revealed elementary preservice teachers emphasized the beneficial challenge of this assignment, suggesting that math-based social justice field trips are important additions to teacher education programs. Finally, we discuss what we learned from this study as teacher educators and researchers and provide recommendations to the field of teacher education.

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