Public defence in mathematics education: Helena Grundén

Title: Mathematics teaching through the lens of planning – actors, structures, and power
Subject: Mathematics education
Faculty: Faculty of Technology
Date: Monday 14 Sept 2020 at 1.15 pm
Place: Room Newton (C1202), building C, Växjö
External reviewer: Professor Anna Chronaki, Malmö University
Examining committee: Professor Paul Andrews, Stockholms University
Associate professor Magnus Österholm, Umeå universitet
Associate professor Lovisa Sumpter, Stockholms universitet
Chairperson: Associate professor Karl-Olof Lindahl, Department of Mathematics, Linnaeus University
Main supervisor: Professor Jeppe Skott, Department of Mathematics, Linnaeus University
Assistant supervisor: Professor Sara Irisdotter Aldenmyr, Dalarna University
Examiner: Professor Hanna Palmér, Department of Mathematics, Linnaeus University
Spikning: Friday 21 August at 1.30 pm at the University library in Växjö


This dissertation explores mathematics teaching by focusing on planning. The planning is seen as a social phenomenon related to surrounding practices and power relations in and between practices. Hence, planning in this dissertation is explored beyond what teachers do when planning.

The research questions that guided the studies developed during the research process and address meaning of planning, influence of practices surrounding mathematics teaching, and common ideas about mathematics teaching in society. To answer the research questions, three studies were conducted, individual interviews, focus group interviews, and a study of mathematics education in news media.

In addition to the aim of contributing to a deeper understanding of mathematics teaching, this dissertation aims to contribute methodologically by answering research questions addressing consequences different views of meaning have for thinking about interviews and assessment of research quality, and the usefulness of theoretical concepts from Critical Discourse Analysis on interview material about planning for mathematics teaching.  In the dissertation, Critical Discourse Analysis is used as a theoretical frame, and theoretical constructs, such as actors, structures, and power, are used to explore planning as embedded in the social practice of mathematics teaching.

The findings show that planning is an ongoing emotional process that is considered to be different things, including choosing examples to use or producing manipulatives. Findings also reveal that planning varies between teachers and schools, but also varies for individual teachers depending on, for example, time of the year or students. Another result is that although teachers are responsible for planning, their considerations, decisions, and reflections are influenced by other actors both in terms of how planning is done and what is planned for. These influences are explicitly through actors with formal power and implicitly through, for example, common ideas about mathematics teaching that are prevalent in society.

Findings that relate to the methodological questions emphasize the importance of considering theoretical standpoints when assessing the quality of research. The findings also show that concepts such as power, actors, and structures are helpful to see and discuss in what ways mathematics teaching is a socially embedded phenomenon.