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Title: PGCE primary trainee teachers' perceptions and accounts of using manipulatives when teaching mathematics on placement
Author: Charles-Cole, Syreeta
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Primary Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) teacher training courses are intense programmes of study that provide opportunities for trainees to develop and employ the more experiential aspects of classroom teaching such as making use of manipulatives. Manipulatives are tactile objects that can enrich instruction when handled. While there is a large body of complementary mathematical literature endorsing the use of manipulatives, some evidence exists within the literature that manipulatives are not used as effectively or as extensively as they could be. Little is known about how trainees conceive, use and apply manipulatives in the classroom. In response, this study explored eight primary PGCE trainee teachers’ experiences of using mathematical manipulatives as they develop their professional learning during placement. A mix of methods (survey, interviews and video recordings) was used over the course of one academic year. In order to understand the participants’ lived experiences, interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Overall, findings indicated a silent set of institutional rules at play as to how manipulatives are selected, introduced and utilised, reinforcing habitual practices such as assigning manipulatives solely to the pupils classified as requiring further support. Study data also revealed the sensory experiences of the manipulative were used as a ‘lifebuoy’ to bridge the social gap caused by grouping by ability. Significantly, this study revealed that although trainees are novices, they appeared to be expected to cope and navigate difficulties with mathematics teaching in isolation. Participants reported that they drew on support for manipulative use from learning theories, textbooks and their own experiences. Mismatches existed between perceptions and accounts of use, and although manipulatives have many affordances, it was taken for granted the manipulatives and the associated language assigned would be universally understood. This thesis concluded inquiry-based practices could help trainees challenge their traditional view of mathematics teaching and how manipulatives are assigned and used in the classroom. A balance has to be found between providing enough support to nurture trainees in becoming autonomous professionals and setting policies that prescribe practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available