Investigating practitioner self-efficacy in an era of mathematical reform

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Walsh, Kathleen
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University College Cork
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The purpose of this study is to explore teacher self-efficacy at a time of radical mathematical reform. Project Maths – the new initiative which was rolled out nationwide in 2010 differs from previous attempts at innovation in that it targets a much closer connection between curriculum and pedagogy. Gone are the days of well-rehearsed routines where the role of the mathematician was essentially that of demonstrator. Teaching for understanding is now the main ‘official’ pedagogical focus, with emphasis on the practitioner playing the part of mediator between subject-matter and student. Mathematical instruction is not merely concerned with the transmission of knowledge and skills which is a particular pedagogical position to take. It is also an emotional practice (Hargreaves, 1998) that colours and expresses the feelings and actions of practitioners. While emotion plays a key role in teachers’ commitment to curricular reform, it is also shaped by the social and cultural contexts of mathematical change, alongside with the attitudes and beliefs of the mathematical teaching community. Inspired by Bandura’s theory of learning (1986), this investigation aims to shed light on the complex interplay between so-called mastery and vicarious experiences, social persuasion and physiological states. Vygotsky’s view of learning (1978) as a socio-cultural process is also drawn upon, as it provides a useful structure against which teacher self-efficacy and professional development can be examined. Finally, Hiebert’s theory (1986) is used to examine mathematics teaching self-efficacy and mathematics self-efficacy.
Maths , Efficacy , Reform
Walsh, K. 2015. Investigating practitioner self-efficacy in an era of mathematical reform. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.