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Negotiating contribution to the teaching of secondary mathematics: on identity development of non-specialist mathematics teachers

Crisan, Cosette and Rodd, Melissa (2014) Negotiating contribution to the teaching of secondary mathematics: on identity development of non-specialist mathematics teachers. In: BERA (British Education Research Association) 2014. UNSPECIFIED.

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To address the shortage of mathematics teachers in England, serving teachers, who are not mathematics specialists, have participated in various government-supported in-service courses on teaching secondary mathematics (DfE 2012). This research concerns the mathematics teacher development of participants of several such secondary mathematics in-service programmes. The topic of issue is: how do such teachers contribute to the teaching of secondary mathematics? A research project was set up to investigate how teachers on our in-service programmes developed as teachers of mathematics. We orientated our research around a central research query: How do already qualified, non-specialist mathematics teachers come to see themselves as mathematics teachers? This query concerns itself with mathematics teacher identity, and our beliefs are consonant with Grootenboer and Zvenberger: “it is essential that teachers of mathematics (at all levels) have well-developed personal mathematical identities” (2008, 248). Our previous work (Crisan and Rodd 2011) found these teachers’ mathematical identities contained tensions between espoused confidence and technical competence in secondary mathematics. This paper reports on some case-studies of teachers’ personal mathematical identity trajectories and relates this to their contribution to teaching. Mathematics teacher shortages are not unique to England and there are several veins of research now on-going. For example, in Germany Bosse and Törner, (2012) report on non-specialist mathematics teachers beliefs and, in the Australian context, Hobbs (2012) on the impacts of subject boundaries on professional identity. Like Bosse and Törner and Hobbs, our research methods are based on qualitative, practitioner research. We have many forms of data from the course participants: mathematical work, interviews, teaching observations, written narratives, for example. These different data sources are interrogated by matching and sorting against the categories in Wenger’s social learning theory (Wenger, 1998), in which he develops the notion of ‘practice’. ‘Practices’ are ways of acting in specific situations that support and are supported by a community. For a community of teachers of mathematics two key practices are doing mathematics and being a teacher. Inclusion in a community contributes to a person’s identity and desire for inclusion motivates the learning of key practices. Non-specialist mathematics teachers, motivated to come on in-service courses, learn by participating in the key practices and this participation contributes to their identities as a mathematics teachers. Their participation in ‘communities’ that related to their mathematics teaching had an influence; we comment, in particular, on the roles of their school mathematics departments and the role of the university course.

Item Type: Book Section
Controlled Keywords: non-specialists, developing identity,, community of practice
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2015 07:55
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2015 07:55
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