Learning to teach upper primary school algebra: changes to teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching functional thinking

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Abstract

A key aspect of learning algebra in the middle years of schooling is
exploring the functional relationship between two variables: noticing and
generalising the relationship, and expressing it mathematically. This article
describes research on the professional learning of upper primary school teachers
for developing their students’ functional thinking through pattern generalisation.
This aspect of algebra learning has been explicitly brought to the attention of
upper primary teachers in the recently introduced Australian curriculum. Ten
practising teachers participated over 1 year in a design-based research project
involving a sequence of geometric pattern generalisation lessons with their
classes. Initial and final survey responses and teachers’ interactions in regular
meetings and lessons were analysed from cognitive and situated perspectives on
professional learning, using a theoretical model for the different types of
knowledge needed for teaching mathematics. The teachers demonstrated an
increase in certain aspects of their mathematical knowledge for teaching algebra
as well as some residual issues. Implications for the professional learning of
practising and pre-service teachers to develop their mathematics knowledge for
teaching functional thinking, and challenges with operationalising knowledge
categories for field-based research are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245 - 275
Number of pages31
JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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