TLRP: Pedagogic practices and interweaving narratives in AS Mathematics classrooms
This paper was presented at the symposium: Opening doors to mathematically-demanding programmes in Higher Education 2. This project, involves both case study research investigating classroom cultures and pedagogic practices and individual students’ narratives of identity together with quantitative analysis of measures of value added to learning outcomes in an attempt to investigate the effectiveness of two different programmes of AS mathematics for post-16 students. These are: GCE A Level Mathematics course, leading to a wide range of university courses, particularly in mathematics, the sciences and technology, and a new programme of study “Use of Mathematics” leads only to AS Level and is designed to focus on modeling and applications of mathematics of assistance to students either in their current or future studies, for example, in sciences, engineering, economics. This course is designed to overcome the traditional A level barrier by appealing to students with relatively limited prior attainment in mathematics. By engaging with computer technology, formative assessment by portfolio and through its emphasis on inquiry, communication and relating mathematics to its applications it is designed to include and keep more students engaged in mathematics for longer. Here we focus on the classroom experiences of students drawing on ethnographic data with video and audio recordings, photographs and researcher notes together with follow-up interviews with students both in small groups and individually and pre- and post- lesson interviews with the teachers involved. We draw on classroom observation data from two of our five case study colleges and explore how we might come to understand the impact that lessons as pedagogic events have on students. We suggest that these experiences within mathematics lessons are crucial to students in their development (whether positive or negative) of their identities as learners of mathematics and consequently their ability to pursue mathematically demanding subjects. Our observations reflect the findings of Boaler & Greeno (2000) that learning environments are crucial in determining the development of students’ development of different cultural models and emerging identities as learners of mathematics (Davis et al, 2007). In contrasting “didactic”, with emphasis on transmissions of rules and procedures with more “sociable” approaches where exploration and connection-making is encouraged, it is suggested that the latter can significantly encourage some students to more positively engage with mathematics. Whilst recognising that different pedagogic practices appear dominant in setting a ‘tone’ for the classrooms of different teachers and clearly impact in a major way on students, we suggest here that perhaps we should look beyond this at another subtle aspect of the totality of students’ mathematical experiences and to do so turn to the construct of narrative.