Characterizing teacher change through the perturbation of pedagogical goals
A teacher’s mathematical knowledge for teaching impacts the teacher’s pedagogical actions and goals (Marfai & Carlson, 2012; Moore, Teuscher, & Carlson, 2011), and a teacher’s instructional goals (Webb, 2011) influences the development of the teacher’s content knowledge for teaching. This study aimed to characterize the reciprocal relationship between a teacher’s mathematical knowledge for teaching and pedagogical goals.
Two exploratory studies produced a framework to characterize a teacher’s mathematical goals for student learning. A case study was then conducted to investigate the effect of a professional developmental intervention designed to impact a teacher’s mathematical goals. The guiding research questions for this study were: (a) what is the effect of a professional development intervention, designed to perturb a teacher’s pedagogical goals for student learning to be more attentive to students’ thinking and learning, on a teacher’s views of teaching, stated goals for student learning, and overarching goals for students’ success in mathematics, and (b) what role does a teacher's mathematical teaching orientation and mathematical knowledge for teaching have on a teacher’s stated and overarching goals for student learning?
Analysis of the data from this investigation revealed that a conceptual curriculum supported the advancement of a teacher’s thinking regarding the key ideas of mathematics of lessons, but without time to reflect and plan, the teacher made limited connections between the key mathematical ideas within and across lessons. The teacher’s overarching goals for supporting student learning and views of teaching mathematics also had a significant influence on her curricular choices and pedagogical moves when teaching. The findings further revealed that a teacher’s limited meanings for proportionality contributed to the teacher struggling during teaching to support students’ learning of concepts that relied on understanding proportionality. After experiencing this struggle the teacher reverted back to using skill-based lessons she had used before.
The findings suggest a need for further research on the impact of professional development of teachers, both in building meanings of key mathematical ideas of a teacher’s lessons, and in professional support and time for teachers to build stronger mathematical meanings, reflect on student thinking and learning, and reconsider one’s instructional goals.