TLRP: The central role of the teacher - even in student-centred pedagogies
The project, ‘Keeping open the door to mathematically demanding courses in Further and Higher Education‘ is investigating the effectiveness of two different programmes of mathematics for post-16 students in England. This involves both case study research investigating classroom cultures and pedagogic practices and students‘ narratives of identity together with quantitative analysis of measures of value added to learning outcomes. In this paper we focus on teachers‘ classroom practices as we attempt to come to an understanding of how different practices impact on students‘ engagement with mathematics in such courses and their future studies. We describe a case study of an unusually ‘student-centred’ mathematics teacher whose students construct unusual – and positive – mathematical dispositions and identities. We draw on a self-report ‘teacher-centred pedagogic practices’ scale, interview and classroom lesson analyses to identify her pedagogic practice and her reflections on these. Our analysis distinguishes ‘mathematical’ and ‘social’ strands in her narrative within lessons which ensure that whilst her practices are found to be engaging and ensure agency and choice she maintains firm control over the ‘mathematical narrative’. In this sense her practice appears contradictory: Activity Theory suggests this as an objective contradiction between the learners’ knowledge and the mathematical reformulation of it that the teacher mediates.