Exploring primary school teachers’ narratives about mathematical ability through a mathTASK activity: the case of Stella

Elena Nardi, Nokuthula Mashiyane

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We report from a study which explored UK primary school teachers’ narratives about mathematical ability using semi-structured interviews and engaging participants in situation-specific activities from the MathTASK programme (mathtasks). We analysed the written responses to the mathtasks and interview data through Nardi, Biza & Zachariades’ classification of teacher warrants. Here, we first introduce a mathtask (called “Fractions” in which four students grapple with the question “How do I know which fraction is bigger?”) designed to elicit teacher talk about mathematical ability and trigger discussion of whether, how and why teachers deploy grouping students by ability. We then draw on one teacher’s data to illustrate themes that emerged as characteristic across our analysis: prevalence of personal and professional empirical warrants and limited presence of a priori and epistemological warrants. Ability narratives emerge as strong influences on teacher decision making as do public narratives of mathematical ability as innate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics
EditorsRachel Marks
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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