The concept of prime number and the strategies used in explaining prime numbers
The teaching of mathematics does not only require the teacher to have knowledge about the subject, but the teacher also needs mathematical knowledge that is useful for the teaching and explaining thereof, as the teacher’s knowledge effects the students’ knowledge. A teacher should use appropriate mathematical explanation to be understood well by her/his students. In the study reported on here we investigated how prospective mathematics teachers defined the concept of prime number and which strategies they employed to explain the concept. The study was a descriptive survey within qualitative research. Forty-eight participants took part in the study and all completed the abstract algebra courses where they learned about the concept in question. The data collection tool was a form comprising 3 open-ended questions challenging what the concept of prime number was and how this concept could be explained to secondary/high school students. The data were analysed and the results show that the preservice teachers experienced great difficulty in defining the concept of prime number and that they used rules to explain prime numbers.
Keywords: explanatory strategies; prime number; prospective mathematics teachers
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