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

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    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
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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