Coordinator: Dr. Deepa Chari, Dr. Reema Mani, Tripti Bameta and others
Coordinator: Dr. K. K. Mashood and Deepa Chari
Coordinator: Prof. Sugra Chunawala
Investigating and Supporting Teachers’ Knowledge of and Responses to Students’ Mathematical Thinking
The thesis is an attempt to characterise teachers’ knowledge about students’ mathematical thinking, as it gets manifested in their practice. The current research in mathematics teacher education focuses on (a) the assessment of teacher knowledge through the use of standard instruments, and (b) supporting teachers through tasks that deepen teachers’ professional knowledge of the subject matter. Some researchers have argued that such a discourse does not capture the dynamicity of teachers’ knowledge manifested in the classroom. The thesis is an attempt to respond to such a critique by presenting a way of systematically investigating teaching practice, in order to capture the dynamic aspects of teacher knowledge manifested in the act of teaching.
The thesis reports an ethnographic case study of the practice of four experienced mathematics teachers at the elementary school level. Data was collected through observations, interviews, and formal and informal interactions with the participating teachers for two academic sessions. Evidences from teachers’ classroom practices are used to argue that: (a) the knowledge of the teacher is not uniquely possessed by the individual but is a joint province of teachers and students in a classroom, and (b) the tools used to investigate the dynamic aspects of teacher’s knowledge need to be reimagined, for instance, students’ responses might help in unpacking some aspects of such knowledge.
The analysis revealed that teachers became more responsive to students’ anticipated and actual ways of (mathematical) thinking from the first to the second year of the study. The thesis presents the knowledge demands underlying the teaching of a specific topic, decimal numbers, at Grade V and VI, respectively. These knowledge demands, arising from contingent classroom situations, were analysed to unpack the aspects of topic-specific knowledge required for teaching mathematics. Teachers were supported to respond to these knowledge demands through in-situ support in the classroom, and ex-situ support through teacher-researcher meetings. Through the nature of support, demanded by and offered to the teachers, the study witnessed the evolution of a community of learning involving teachers and researchers. The investigation of teachers’ knowledge through a systematic study of their practice and the process of supporting teachers with the practice at the centre, have implications for mathematics teacher education, research on mathematics teachers, and for bridging the gap between research and practice in education.