Detailing the Work of Leading a Productive Mathematics Discussion: A Study of a Practice-Based Pedagogy of Elementary Teacher Education
Cunard, Adrian Foster
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Abstract Detailing the Work of Leading a Productive Mathematics Discussion: A Study of a Practice-Based Pedagogy of Elementary Teacher Education Adrian Foster Cunard Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Elham Kazemi College of Education In mathematics teacher education, we seek to support teachers to do increasingly complex kinds of teaching--teaching that aims to develop in all students a conceptual understanding of key mathematical ideas, powerful reasoning skills, and a view of themselves as people who do mathematics. But developing pedagogies of teacher preparation that support the enactment of such teaching by novices remains a central challenge for the field. I report in this dissertation on my study of a mathematics methods course in an elementary teacher preparation program that was organized around novice enactment of the complex practice of leading a productive mathematical discussion in the classroom. In the course, novices and the teacher educator worked on the practice through investigations, coached public rehearsals and enactments with children of a set of discussion-based mathematics lessons or instructional activities. I investigated the affordances of the use of a particular instructional activity, the String activity, for working on leading mathematical discussion with children. I sought to understand how pedagogies of enactment in the course scaffolded novice engagement with the practice. I found that the String activity created opportunities to engage with the work of keeping the target mathematics at center stage throughout a discussion, or the practice of orienting the children to the target mathematics. I argue that coached public rehearsals of the String activity offered opportunities for novices and the teacher educator to detail that practice: to decompose what it would entail, to plan together for how it would look and sound. And I argue that enactments with children offered opportunities for novices to do what was rehearsed with children and see how they would respond; to encounter unanticipated responses from students; to manage the reality of pacing a lesson while engaging children's thinking; and to experience modeling from the teacher educator of high quality practice. I also considered whether and how this work intersects with equity aims in mathematics education. The study raised questions about how to articulate the link between work in teacher preparation on orchestrating productive classroom discourse and the broader aims of improving learning opportunities for children in schools.
- Education - Seattle