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Title: A Sociocultural Perspective on Beginning Teachers Enacting Reasoning and Proving Practices
The critical role of teachers in supporting student engagement with reasoning and proving has long been recognized (Nardi & Knuth, 2017; NCTM, 2014). While some studies examined how prospective secondary teachers (PSTs) develop dispositions and teaching practices that promote student engagement with reasoning and proving (e.g., Buchbinder & McCrone, 2020; Conner, 2007), very little is known about long-term development of proof-related practices of beginning teachers and what factors affect this development (Stylianides et al., 2017). During the supervised teaching experiences, interns often encounter tensions between balancing their commitments to the university and cooperating teacher, while also developing their own teaching styles (Bieda et al., 2015; Smagorinsky et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2008). Our study examines how sociocultural contexts of the teacher preparation program and of the internship school, supported or inhibited proof-related teaching practices of beginning secondary mathematics teachers. In particular, this study aims to understand the observed gap between proof-related teaching practices of one such teacher, Olive, in two settings: as a PST in a capstone course Mathematical Reasoning and Proving for Secondary Teachers (Buchbinder & McCrone, 2020) and as an intern in a high-school classroom. We utilize activity theory (Leont’ev, 1979) and Engeström’s (1987) model of an activity system to examine how the various components of the system: teacher (subject), teaching (object), the tasks (tools), the curriculum and the expected teaching style (rules), the cooperating teacher (community) and their involvement during the teaching (division of labor) interact with each other and affect the opportunities provided to students to engage with reasoning and proving (outcome). The analysis of four lessons from each setting, lesson plans, reflections and interviews, showed that as a PST, Olive engaged students with reasoning and proving through productive proof-related teaching practices and rich tasks that involved conjecturing, justifying, proving and evaluating arguments. In a sharp contrast, as an intern, Olive had to follow her school’s rigid curriculum and expectations, and to adhere to her cooperating teacher’s teaching style. As a result, in her lessons as an intern students received limited opportunities for reasoning and proving. Olive expressed dissatisfaction with this type of teaching and her desire to enact more proof-oriented practices. Our results show that the sociocultural components of the activity system (rules, community and division of labor), which were backgrounded in Olive’s teaching experience as a PST but prominent in her internship experience, influenced the outcome of engaging students with reasoning and proving. We discuss the importance of these sociocultural aspects as we examine how Olive navigated the tensions between the proof-related teaching practices she adopted in the capstone course and her teaching style during the internship. We highlight the importance of teacher educators considering the sociocultural aspects of teaching in supporting beginning teachers developing proof-related teaching practices.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Karunakaran, S. S.; Higgins, A.
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the Annual Conference on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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