ERG SES D 11, Identity and Education
Numeracy, sometimes called mathematical or quantitative literacy, includes the disposition to be confident and willing to use mathematical knowledge and appropriate tools in a given context (Goos, 2007). These attributes are important for individuals and countries in an increasingly globalised world (OECD & Statistics Canada, 2011). However, results from the OECD’s PISA 2012 assessment of mathematical literacy indicate that 23% of students from participating countries did not reach internationally accepted baseline levels of proficiency (OECD, 2013). As numeracy is more than mathematical skills, numeracy capabilities need to be developed in different contexts (Steen, 2001). For school students this means in all school subjects. If such an across the curriculum approach is to be successful, teachers need to see themselves, (i.e., have an identity) as a teacher of numeracy. In Australia, there is evidence to suggest that for many beginning secondary teachers this is not the case (Milton, Rohl, & House, 2007). While a similar study does not appear to have been conducted with practicing teachers, this result suggests a need for in-service professional development to assist teachers from all disciplines to develop a strong identity as a teacher of numeracy. To do this it is first necessary to have a better understanding of this construct.
Identities are complex and context dependent (Wenger, 1998). While there has been an increasing amount of research on teacher identity in the last decade, there does not appear to have been any research on teacher identity in the context of teachers fostering the development students’ numeracy capabilities. Drawing on the literature of teacher identity, we developed a conceptual framework for identity as a teacher of numeracy (Bennison & Goos, 2013b). This framework focuses on those characteristics thought to be most relevant for a teacher promoting students’ numeracy capabilities. Therefore, it overcomes some of the difficulties associated with investigating teacher identity (Enyedy, Goldberg, & Welsh, 2005) because it is comprehensive for this particular context yet still amenable to empirical studies. The framework is arranged around four interconnected domains, a knowledge domain, an affective domain, a social domain and a life history domain.
As the framework brings together both cognitive and social elements it lends itself to analysis from a sociocultural perspective. The focus of the study reported on here is teacher learning and development, therefore the approach taken by (Goos, 2005) that used an adaptation of Valsiner’s (1997) zone theory is an appropriate theoretical framework. This approach involves mapping the characteristics that constitute the four domains of influence onto a teacher’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), Zone of Free Movement (ZFM), and Zone of Promoted Action (ZPA) (see Bennison & Goos, 2013a). The ZPD includes mathematical content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and curriculum knowledge as well as beliefs and confidence related to numeracy. Support (or otherwise) from colleagues and administrators, curriculum requirements, and characteristics of students are included in the ZFM. Participation in professional development and research projects as well as interactions with colleagues contributes to the ZPA.
This paper presents some initial findings from a two-year study that aims to develop an understanding of identity as a teacher of numeracy. The purpose of the paper is to extend previous research that has developed a conceptual framework (Bennison & Goos, 2013b) and suggested that an adaptation of Valsiner’s (1997) zone theory could be used as a theoretical framework (Bennison & Goos, 2013a) for the study of this construct. Specifically this paper addresses the question of how identity as a teacher of numeracy can be described in terms a teacher’s ZPD, ZFM and ZPA.
Bennison, A., & Goos, M. (2013a, December). Exploring Numeracy Teacher Identity: An Adaptation of Valsiner’s Zone Theory. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education, Adelaide. Bennison, A., & Goos, M. (2013b). Teacher identity and numeracy: Developing an analytic lens for understanding numeracy teacher identity. In V. Steinle, L. Ball & C. Bardini (Eds.), Mathematics Education: Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Proceedings of the 36th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Vol. 1, pp. 90-97). Melbourne: MERGA. Enyedy, N., Goldberg, J., & Welsh, K. M. (2005). Complex dilemmas of identity and practice. Science Education, 90, 68-93. doi: 10.1002/sce.20096 Goos, M. (2005). A sociocultural analysis of the development of pre-service and beginning teachers’ pedagogical identities as users of technology. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 8, 35-59. doi: 10.1007/s10857-005-0457-0 Goos, M. (2007, September). New tools, new learners … new numeracies? Keynote address delivered at the South Australian Literacy and Numeracy Expo. Adelaide. Goos, M., Geiger, V., & Dole, S. (2011). Teachers' personal conceptions of numeracy. In B. Ubuz (Ed.), Proceedings of the 35th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, (Vol. 2, pp. 457-464). Ankara, Turkey: PME. Milton, M., Rohl, M., & House, H. (2007). Secondary beginning teachers preparedness to teach literacy and numeracy: A survey. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 32(2), 1-20. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2013). PISA 2012 Results: What students know and can do - Student performance in mathematics, reading and science (Volume 1). PISA, OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264201118-en. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), & Statistics Canada. (2011). Literacy for life: Further results from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey. OECD Publishing. doi: 9789264128859-en Steen, L. A. (2001). The case for quantitative literacy. In L. A. Steen (Ed.), Mathematics and democracy: The case for quantitative literacy (pp. 1-22). Princeton, N.J.: National Council on Education and the Disciplines. Valsiner, J. (1997). Culture and the development of children's action: A theory for human development (2nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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