TLRP: Students' mathematical identity and its relation to classroom mathematics pedagogic practice
The paper is based on the ESRC TLRP research project in widening-participation in HE, `keeping open the door to mathematically-demanding F&HE programmes', which aims to understand how cultures of learning and teaching can support learners in ways that help widen and extend participation in mathematically demanding courses in F&HE. In this paper we address the following questions: how do some students talk about their mathematics social practice? And (conceptually) how can different pedagogies mediate mathematical identity? We interviewed 50 students from 5 institutions on three occasions. On two occasions, one towards the beginning and one towards the end of the AS year, the interviews focused on their mathematics biographies and how these connect to other aspects of their imagined futures, such as going on to university. A further round of interviews was conducted in order to access students’ self-identity about their mathematical practices, conducted mid-way in the academic year. In these interviews we used mathematical artefacts of relevance, e.g. pieces of work they had produced in lessons we had observed or their actual examination paper as a means to stimulate mathematical discussion. We draw on socio-cultural theory, particularly Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, to provide a view of identity as in dialectical relation to practice (Roth & Lee; 2007; Roth et al., 2005). We analyse the interviews using expression of self-identity about their mathematics social practice as the unit of analysis. But we analyse these for their selfidentity in relation to their mathematics social practice (Sfard, 2005; Holland et.al., 1998): we look for the use of cultural models (Gee, 1999; Holland & Quinn, 1987; Holland et al., op cit), and especially cultural models about mathematics (see also Nasir 2002, Nasir and Saxe, 200?), which they use as discursive tools for self-authoring during the interview event in order to detect changes in mathematical identity. We provide an example of a mathematical modelling genre which can invoke a view of maths as useful and an example of a sociable/constructivist mathematics genre which can invoke a view of maths as sociable and enjoyable. We found cultural models of mathematics as ‘useful’ and as ‘enjoyable’ can provide powerful leverage in changing mathematical identities.