The influence of lesson design on the teaching and learning process in secondary school mathematics
AbstractThis study involves a collaborative qualitative case study in a single secondary school with two classes of 11 and 12 year old pupils and a group of mathematics teachers. Its aim was to investigate the use of pedagogical language and terminology relating to lesson design for the teaching of mathematics. The rationale was based on a critical review of the literature arguing that pedagogical terms are often used interchangeably by teachers and that these have particular meanings when designing lessons and for the learning of mathematics. The research was viewed through the lens of a single study school with a group of teachers who had all received their initial teacher training in the same institution (the one in which I work). The research process involved the plan-do-review cycles during which the participating teacher facilitated the video recording of the lessons with the classes. Each of these lessons was followed by a conversation in the form of semi-structured interviews between the teachers and researcher supported by video recordings of classroom interactions. Following each analysis and evaluation of the lessons the participating teachers had time and space to develop lesson plans using their newly acquired understandings of the pedagogical terminology. The thesis outlines the ways in which the project developed through the cycles. The conversations between teachers and researcher were analysed using a form of analysis based on dialogic assumptions about the multi-voiced nature of talk. The findings suggest that there were changes in the ways in which the teachers communicated with each other about their ideas of lesson design. Pupil interview data suggests that children experienced an increased opportunity to explore an aspect of mathematics. Pupils also developed a deeper conceptual understanding of what is a mathematical abstract concept (the division of fractions), and that this was independent of prior attainment. Although the findings do suggest a shift in teacher use and understanding of pedagogical terminology relating to lesson design, there were issues around using small groups of pupils and a single setting for generalisation but not for transferability to other mathematical topics. The study does conclude that there is a strong link between teacher shared understandings of pedagogical terminology and lesson planning with the result being pupils from across the attainment range being able to access a mathematically difficult topic. Finally, it is acknowledged that there are multiple demands being placed upon practising teachers attempting to implement a myriad of changes together with the approaches from this research. Even given these multiple constraints their enthusiasm and learning resulted in changes to lesson design and a common shared understanding of terminology for the framing of lessons.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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