Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Jo Ann Cady, Vincent A. Anfara

Committee Members

Lynn L. Hodge, Charles Collins

Abstract

This qualitative case study documents the identities of four middle grades mathematics teachers and the influences of those identities on their instructional practices. Three sources of data were collected: interviews, observations, and the Scoop Notebook (Borko et al., 2005). Wenger's (1998) characteristics of identity provided the framework for data analysis. This view of identity aligns with situative views of learning and provided an analytic lens that allowed a focus on the development of a mathematics teaching identity in relation to the communities in which teachers participate. Both within-case analyses and a comparative analysis across contexts were conducted. The within-case analyses indicated that the perceived alignment of goals, values, and beliefs for mathematics instruction between each of the communities is an important element of developing a reform-minded identity. The comparative analysis indicated that several differences in the schools played an important role in this identity formation, including school size, socioeconomic status of students, the existence of a school-based professional teaching community, and the role of the teacher in making curriculum decisions. Three areas of teachers' identities were reflected in their instructional practices: (1) teachers' preparations for mathematics instruction, (2) teachers' views of the role of the student, and (3) teachers' use of curriculum materials and discourse as pedagogical tools. Results indicated the need for professional development to carry a dual focus on increasing teachers' knowledge and skills while also attending to promoting reform-minded views at a school and district level. Ongoing opportunities for teachers to participate in a professional teaching community appear to be an important catalyst for these changes.

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