Activating mathematical competencies

César Sáenz from the Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain, has written an article called The role of contextual, conceptual and procedural knowledge in activating mathematical competencies (PISA). This article describes and analyzes the difficulties that Spanish student teachers had when attempting to solve the released items from PISA 2003. The student teachers (n=140) were first-year students, and they had not taken any mathematics courses in their teacher training at the time of the study. They didn't have any experience with the PISA tests, and they had no more than secondary-level mathematics studies before they started their teacher education. The test they took was made from a collection of 39 released items from PISA 2003.

The article was published in Educational Studies in Mathematics on Sunday. Here is the article abstract:
This paper analyses the difficulties which Spanish student teachers have in solving the PISA 2003 released items. It studies the role played by the type and organisation of mathematical knowledge in the activation of competencies identified by PISA with particular attention to the function of contextual knowledge. The results of the research lead us to conclude that the assessment of the participant’s mathematical competencies must include an assessment of the extent to which they have school mathematical knowledge (contextual, conceptual and procedural) that can be productively applied to problem situations. In this way, the school knowledge variable becomes a variable associated with the PISA competence variable.