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Title: Perspectives on teachers' numeracy, investigated via examination of comment and conversation
Author: Kay, Jane E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6057 580X
Awarding Body: University of Bolton
Current Institution: University of Bolton
Date of Award: 2016
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For those training to teach in England, numeracy is required to fulfil the remit of a complete teacher education qualification. Trainee teachers in the post-compulsory sector must address their own level and depth of numerical comprehension whilst also examining the factors that surround the acquisition of this knowledge for their own learners in the classroom. For those training to teach in the compulsory sectors of primary or secondary education, a GCSE graded C or above and the completion of an additional numeracy professional skills test is required. Anecdotal evidence suggested prior to the initiation of research that numeracy within teacher education programs was not favourably received or welcomed by either trainee teachers or more established teachers. This research investigates in the first phase teachers’ and trainee teachers’ opinion and perception of numeracy using data collected from educational forums, prospectuses from teacher education providers, a critical review of resources available to support learning of numeracy for trainee teachers. In the second phase research utilises the observation of the delivery of a functional skills mathematics programme for teachers in the post-compulsory sector, recording information from participant observation, an online bulletin board and focus groups. Each successive method, through two distinct phases of research, focusses on comments and conversation, examining what teachers’ say to better understand their perceptions and opinions about the subject of numeracy. The findings indicate that teachers in the post-compulsory sector are reluctant to undertake any form of numeracy learning and those taking the training for the compulsory sector experience a lot of anxiety about the numeracy professional skills test in particular. The depth of negativity found to be present is extremely high with teachers’ words being collected and examined for their positive or negative direction and being overwhelming in their negative attitudes and opinions. Negative past experiences of teachers’ inform the development of negative perceptions of their own abilities and add to the anxiety they experience in relation to numeracy learning. Those teaching or training to teach are likely to be qualified to a university level but still demonstrate very high levels of negativity towards numeracy learning. The second research finding of conflict was present within the data not only from teachers’ words but also in the wording of prospectuses aimed at providing information for prospective trainees. The conflict was clear where prospectuses demonstrated avoidance of the mention of 3 numeracy as a course requirement for teaching, appearing to prefer not to stir up feelings of anxiety and negativity that are related to numeracy and mathematics. Teachers experienced conflicts between the need to maintain levels of professionalism, the traits expected of a teacher and their own feelings surrounding the subject. The findings of the research have been distilled down into the two main areas of negativity and conflict in relation to the perceptions and opinions of numeracy learning for teachers’. A naturalistic method has been used throughout to capture information that is not solicited and is not volunteered specifically for the purposes of research. The methods throughout analyse comments and conversation, however many of these take the form of online conversation or postings leading to a development in the innovative methodology which utilises the internet and electronic forms of communication. All of the research data is brought together for analysis to inform and support future practice in teachers’ numeracy through the development of a more positive attitude towards learning in numeracy for teachers. The development of a model for delivery is proposed which incorporates the findings and uses an acknowledgement of the inherent negativity surrounding the subject as a starting point for teachers’ numeracy learning to be more effective.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available