Investigating Mathematics Teaching: A Constructivist Enquiry

By Barbara Jaworski | Go to book overview
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Chapter 11

Reflection and Development

The focus of this study began very firmly in the domain of mathematics teaching, with emphasis on an investigative approach to mathematics teaching, on teaching acts designed to promote students’ conceptual awareness, and the thinking which lay behind these acts. A teacher’s thinking was an overt consideration of my study, implicit in which was that teachers do think, and that this thinking influences their classroom activity. My belief that this study has implications for individual teacher development has sprung out of the relationships which I experienced with the teachers and my observations of their personal development during the research.

As my study has evolved, and I have come to focus more and more on levels of interpretation, and on whose story I am actually telling, the position of what I have called the ‘teacher-researcher relationship’ has grown in prominence in this research, as has the role of the ‘reflective practitioner’, both teacher and reseacher. My perceptions with regard to the development of teaching have arisen to a great extent through recognition of the role which reflection has played in my own development, and the development of the research described here.

Thinking and Reflection—Some Starting Points

Peterson (1988), reviewing research on teachers’ cognitions, points out:

Clark and Peterson (1986) concluded that the image of the teacher as a thoughtful professional put forth originally by Shulman and others in 1975 is ‘not far fetched’. (Peterson, 1988)

Cooney (1984) suggests that teachers have ‘implicit theories of teaching and learning’ which influence their classroom acts:

I believe that teachers make decisions about students and the curriculum in a rational way according to the conceptions they hold. (Cooney, 1984)

Elbaz (1990) talks of teachers’ ‘voice’—a word encompassing terms used by researchers such as ‘perspective’, or ‘frame of reference’—and suggests that it has become important to researchers into teacher thinking to ‘redress an imbalance


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