ERG SES D 13, Teaching and Education
This paper highlights the consideration that must be given to teacher confidence and teacher knowledge as elements of teacher identity when examining the phenomenon of ‘out-of-field’ mathematics teaching. An out-of-field mathematics teaching teacher is defined as a teacher who is teaching mathematics in second level education but is not fully qualified to do so (Ingersoll 1999). This is an international area of interest with research published on this issue in Australia, Ireland, South Africa and the United States of America (Ingersoll 1999, Hobbs 2013, Ní Ríordáin & Hannigan 2011, Van Zoest and Bohl 2005). This issue involves an investigation into the composition of an out-of-field teacher’s identity and their professional mathematics teacher identity (PMTI). Wenger (1998) believes that there is a deep connection between identity and practice, thus if this is the case then “[t]he professional identity of the person who teaches is an essential factor in determining the success of what happens in the classroom” (van Putten et al. 2014, p. 369).
Identity is tasked with serving many purposes such as studying self-understanding, labelling persons with uniformity or regularity and recognising core elements of the self (Brubaker and Cooper 2000). The psychosocial view on identity, developed by Erik Erikson, comprises individual and social meaning (Holland and Lachicotte 2007). The sense of being part of relationships, groups or culture is central to this perspective on the concept of identity (Flum and Kaplan 2012). This is similar to the sociocultural perspective of Wenger (1998). This perspective is frequently cited in research on identity in education (e.g., Graven 2004, Van Zoest and Bohl 2005). Wenger (1998) illustrates that identity is composed of negotiated experiences, community membership, learning trajectory, nexus of multi-membership and the relation between the local and global. Communities of practice are deemed to play a significant role in identity development. These are communities who share a joint enterprise, mutual engagement and repertoire (Van Zoest and Bohl 2005). This signifies the link between identity and practice and thus, in an educational context between professional teacher identity and teaching.
Beijaard et al. (2004) propose that professional teacher identity is an ongoing process that is not fixed, but rather dynamic. They highlight that it involves the answers to the questions “who am I at this moment?” and “who do I want to become?”, thus involving anticipatory reflection (Conway 2001). They add that a teacher’s professional identity consists of sub-identities that more or less harmonise. This links to Wenger’s (1998) work on the nexus of multi-membership, whereby the reconciliation of community membership takes place. This process of identity reconciliation undertaken by out-of-field mathematics teachers requires future research. The following research questions have been formed:
- Does a community of practice, established through a professional development programme, have the capacity to impact on teacher identity?
- What are the key factors that support the identity reconciliation of out-of-field mathematics teachers?
The theoretical framework for this study aims to examine the boundary crossing (Hobbs 2013) that out-of-field mathematics teachers undertake. It incorporates Van Zoest and Bohl’s (2005) definition of mathematics teacher identity (MTI) that focuses on teachers teaching mathematics who are not qualified to do so – that is, the actual identity of teachers (Sfard and Prusak 2005). Wenger (1998) social theory of learning is utilised with the additive of confidence from the work of Graven (2004). The final component encompasses four elements namely, Knowledge of Mathematics for Teaching, Experience, Participation in Professional Activities, and Membership to Professionally Related Communities. Graven (2004) argued that mastery illustrated by confidence in these domains, was essential for formulating a PMTI - the designated identity of teachers (Sfard and Prusak 2005).
Beijaard, D., Meijer, P. C. and Verloop, N. (2004) 'Reconsidering research on teachers’ professional identity', Teaching and Teacher Education, 20(2), 107-128. Brubaker, R. and Cooper, F. (2000) 'Beyond “identity”', Theory and society, 29(1), 1-47. Chapman, O. (2008) 'Narratives in mathematics teacher education', in Tirosh, D. and Wood, T., eds., The international handbook of mathematics teacher education: Tools and processes in mathematics teacher education, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2, 15-38. Conway, P. F. (2001) 'Anticipatory reflection while learning to teach: from a temporally truncated to a temporally distributed model of reflection in teacher education', Teaching and Teacher Education, 17(1), 89-106. Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. (2000) Handbook of Qualitative Research, 2nd ed., California: SAGE Publications. Flum, H. and Kaplan, A. (2012) 'Identity formation in educational settings: A contextualized view of theory and research in practice', Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37(3), 240-245. Graven, M. (2004) 'Investigating mathematics teacher learning within an in-service community of practice: The centrality of confidence', Educational Studies in Mathematics, 57(2), 177-211. Hobbs, L. (2013) 'Teaching ‘out-of-field’as a boundary-crossing event: Factors shaping teacher identity', International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11(2), 271-297. Holland, D. and Lachicotte, W. J. (2007) 'Vygotsky, Mead and the new sociocultural studies of identity' in Daniels, H., Cole, M. and Wertsch, J., eds., The Cambridge companion to Vygotsky, New York: Cambridge University Press, 101–135. Ingersoll, R. M. (1999) 'The Problem of Underqualified Teachers in American Secondary Schools', Educational researcher, 28(2), 26-37. Kelle, U. (2006) 'Combining qualitative and quantitative methods in research practice: purposes and advantages', Qualitative research in psychology, 3(4), 293-311. Merriam, S. B. (2009) Qualitative Research. A guide to Design and Implementation (Revised and Expanded from Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ríordáin, M. N. and Hannigan, A. (2011) 'Who teaches mathematics at second level in Ireland?', Irish Educational Studies, 30(3), 289-304. Sfard, A. and Prusak, A. (2005) 'Telling Identities: In Search of an Analytic Tool for Investigating Learning as a Culturally Shaped Activity', Educational researcher, 34(4), 14-22. van Putten, S., Stols, G. and Howie, S. (2014) 'Do prospective mathematics teachers teach who they say they are?', Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 17(4), 369-392. Van Zoest, L. R. and Bohl, J. V. (2005) 'Mathematics Teacher Identity: a framework for understanding secondary school mathematics teachers’ learning through practice', Teacher Development, 9(3), 315-345. Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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