Public defence in mathematics education: Andreas Ebbelind

Title: Becoming recognised as mathematically proficient: The role of a primary school teacher education programme
Subject: Mathematics education
Faculty: Faculty of Technology
Date: Thursday 23 January 2020 at 9.15 am
Place: Room Weber, building K, Växjö
External reviewer: Professor Uwe Gellert, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Examining committee: Professor Jeremy Hodgen, University College London, England
Professor Martin Carlsen, University of Agder, Norway
Professor Lisa Björklund Boistrup, Malmö University, Sweden
Chairperson: Associate professor Hanna Palmér, Department of Mathematics, Linnaeus University
Supervisor: Professor Jeppe Skott, Department of Mathematics, Linnaeus University
Assistant supervisor: Professor Despina Potari, Department of Mathematics, Linnaeus University
Examiner: Professor Lena Fritzén, Department of Pedagogy and Learning, Linnaeus University
Spikning: Wednesday 11 December 2019 at 3.15 pm at the University library in Växjö


This study focuses on upper primary prospective teachers in their first years of a teacher education programme in Sweden, in particular, a 20-week mathematics education course. It aims to contribute with insight into how, or even if, experience from a teacher education programme and other relevant past and present social practices and figured worlds plays a role in prospective generalist teachers’ imaginings of themselves as primary mathematics teachers-to-be and potentially shapes their identity. The theoretical perspective, Patterns of Participation, guides the logic and the research process and is used to interpret the construct of professional identity development. Ethnographic methods were crucial during the research process, which starts by taking a wide perspective on relevant social practices and then focuses exclusively on the everyday lives of prospective teachers.

This study adds to the understanding of how the similarities in the discursive patterns of two prospective teachers, Evie and Lisa, frame their processes as teachers-to-be by staying committed to their prior positive experiences of mathematics. The figured world of performative mathematics is a significant aspect of Evie’s and Lisa’s experience, which involves being recognised for mathematical ability. Evie’s identity development is framed in relation to how her degree of certainty changes during her teacher education experience. She became recognised as someone who helps others in mathematics and found a way of performing this role during the teacher education programme. Lisa’s identity development is framed in relation to her commitment to the figured world of performative mathematics. She became recognised as a winner of competitions and for quickly completing the textbook exercises – experiences that proved formative during her teacher education programme.

In this study, I conclude that the teacher education programme has an impact regarding prospective teachers’ professional development, but perhaps not in the way teacher educators expect or want. Thus, the teacher educators’ intention for the education programme differs from the result. An important aspect is that prospective teachers are not challenged first and foremost by encountering the theoretical perspectives involved in teaching mathematics. Instead, their prior experience is confirmed when used as a key source in determining what teaching mathematics means in terms of identity.

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