NOMAD 22(4), 2017

Skapad: 2018-01-04. Ändrad: 2018-01-04  

NOMAD 22(4), 2017

Finnish entry-level students’ views of teacher knowledge and the characteristics of a good mathematics teacher

Mervi A. Asikainen, Antti Viholainen, Mika Koponen and Pekka E. Hirvonen


This paper reports a study of the views held by Finnish students at the start of their university studies concerning their understanding of the knowledge and characteristics of a good mathematics teacher. A total of 97 students following a basic university course responded to a questionnaire. The results showed that a knowledge of teaching mathematics was more often used to describe the good mathematics teacher than a knowledge of mathematics. According to the students’ views, mathematics teachers need to be able to take the level of understanding of individual students into account in their teaching. Good mathematics teachers were also considered to be skilled in explaining, simplifying and transforming mathematical contents for their students. A good mathematics teacher was often described by the respondents as a patient, clear, inspiring and consistent person. On the other hand, characteristics such as humorous, likeable, empathetic, or fair were seldom used in the students’ responses to describe a good mathematics teacher. Those respondents who planned to become teachers demonstrated a more learner-centred concept of a good mathematics teacher than did those who were aiming at some other subject specialist profession than that of teaching.

Mervi A. Asikainen

Docent Mervi A. Asikainen is a senior lecturer at the UEF Department of Physics and Mathematics. Asikainen directs the UEF physics and mathematics education research group. Her current field of interest include teacher knowledge of mathematics and physics teachers, teaching and learning of physics in higher and secondary education, and research-based development of STEM education.

Antti Viholainen

Antti Viholainen is a senior lecturer in mathematics / mathematics education at University of Eastern Finland. His research areas are mathematical beliefs, mathematics teacher education, learning materials (textbooks etc.) in mathematics, and mathematical argumentation.

Mika Koponen

Mika Koponen is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland. He has used Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching (MKT) framework for evaluating and improving mathematics teacher education. In his dissertation study, he presented a novel approach for investigating teacher knowledge and its interconnections by making use of network analysis methods. His postdoctoral research continues from this work by focusing on how the components of teacher knowledge are interconnected.

Pekka E. Hirvonen

Docent Pekka E. Hirvonen is a senior lecturer at the UEF Department of Physics and Mathematics. Hirvonen has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles in international journals, books, and proceedings.