'Understanding Mathematics in Depth’: An Investigation into the Conceptions of Secondary Mathematics Teachers on Two UK Subject Knowledge Enhancement Courses
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis is an investigation into conceptions of ‘understanding mathematics in depth’, as articulated by two specific groups of novice secondary mathematics teachers in the UK. Most participants in the sample interviewed have completed one of two government funded mathematics subject knowledge enhancement courses, which were devised with an aim of strengthening students’ understanding of fundamental mathematics. Qualitative data was drawn from semi-structured interviews with 21 subjects and more in-depth case studies of two of the sample. The data reveals some key themes common to both groups, and also some clear differences. The data also brings to light some new emergent theory which is particularly relevant in novice teachers’ contexts. To provide background context to this study, quantitative data on pre-service mathematics Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students is also presented, and it is shown that, at the university in the study, there is no relationship between degree classification on entry to PGCE, and effectiveness as a teacher as measured on exit from the course. The data also shows that there are no significant differences in subject knowledge and overall performance on exit from PGCE, between students who have previously followed a subject knowledge enhancement course, and those who have followed more traditional degree routes.
EdD in Mathematics Education