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Title: Locating mathematical activity : a classroom study
Author: Vosper Singleton, Damon Peter
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 3857
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis recounts my research into value and purpose in the classroom construction of mathematical activity. The research took place in a boys’ independent school where high examination expectations sustain. I am a teacher at the school; this thesis also narrates the development of a teacher-researcher identity through research. Grounded methods and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) were used to explore the activity of the mathematics classroom in relation to pupils’ developing mathematical capability. Pupil participants were interviewed from year 7 to year 10 and observed in lessons in order to reveal values associated with mathematical action through productive participation. Teachers were interviewed to explore the purposes they tried to convey in their lessons. By examining the actions engendered by participative, institutional and personal values I draw a picture of the object of mathematics classroom activity within established norms of order and work. Exploring the co-construction of classroom activity with CHAT revealed the persistence of systemic tensions within the stable activity. Neither pupils’ developing authority nor teachers’ awareness of these tensions impacted substantially on the roles that sustained. This stasis accompanied limits placed upon pupils’ expectations of personal transformation, and inhibited scope for the teacher to introduce aims other than examination success. I conclude that engagement with the generative potential of tensions was hampered by a restrictive focus on the high-stakes end point of compulsory mathematics education. Responsibility for this is attributed to the combination of cultural and institutional pressures which results in opportunities being placed aside and mathematical capability undeveloped. In developing a dual identity, I placed the aims and effectiveness of mathematics teaching in a wider socio-historical context, concluding that the development of mathematical authority as defined by examination curricula results in the classroom as a tool-and-result methodology, producing pupils in an enduring relationship with knowledge and knowledge construction.
Supervisor: Brown, Margaret; Hodgen, Jeremy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available