Wilkie, K. & Clarke, D. (2015). Pathways to professional growth : Investigating upper primary school teachers' perspectives on learning to teach algebra. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (online version),40(4), 87-118. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2015v40n4.6
This paper discusses upper primary school teachers’ perspectives on changes to their knowledge and practice through participation in a design-based research project. It analyses their experiences using Clarke & Hollingsworth’s (2002) empirically-founded model for professional growth to understand more about the mechanisms for change that might support teachers in learning to teach a challenging but important aspect of mathematics – algebra. Ten teachers were involved in cycles of collaborative planning, team-teaching, evaluating, and revising five lessons for their classes on developing functional thinking through pattern generalisation over one year. The teachers referred to observations of teaching in action, and modification of their beliefs about algebra, about themselves as mathematics learners, about particular students, and about teaching mathematics. They shared differing perspectives on the effect of interacting with colleagues during the research. Some teachers described a sense of discomfort when confronted with their lack of algebra knowledge or with their students’ questions or responses during lessons, and these experiences are analysed in terms of their salient outcomes for teachers. The findings demonstrate pathways that appeared to be commonly experienced by many of the teachers and also those that highlight the individualistic nature of teacher change mechanisms. Implications for the design of professional learning opportunities in mathematics for in-service and pre-service teachers are discussed.
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