Building Alliances: A Partnership between a Middle School Mathematics Teacher and a University Researcher
Committee ChairWiles, Peter
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis case study examined the evolution of a partnership between a middle school mathematics teacher and a university researcher around discussions on the content and teaching of mathematics. In particular, the study sought to examine the evolution of the partnership, the constraints present for the teacher and researcher, the impact of the partnership on the mathematical and pedagogical issues that arose in planning, teaching, and assessment, and the impact on the tasks that the teacher chose and implemented in the classroom. Drawing from the literature on collaborations and the emergent perspective, the evolution of the partnership occurred through three stages, determined by the content-teaching tensions. The first stage focused on the mathematics content, with the agenda being set and run by the researcher. The second stage gave rise to the content-teaching tensions as the teacher shifted the discussions from content to a focus on lesson planning and teaching. Tensions were resolved in the third stage with the teacher taking a proactive role in the discussions of lesson design and teaching. The mathematical issues in planning and teaching reflected the shift in the partnership where in the beginning the discussions focused on the mathematical content, later discussions centered on a combination of content, pedagogy, and student thinking. The assessment discussions addressed differences between the language of the curriculum and the district and state tests.The shift in the partnership can be attributed to the teacher's choice of high level mathematics tasks, the subsequent adoption of a conceptually based mathematics curriculum and the effective management of the dialectic tensions by both partners. This study illustrated that generating perturbations and effective management of dialectical tensions has the potential for a fruitful collaboration between teachers and researchers.