Enhancing mathematics teachers' pedagogical content knowledge in communities of practice
Communities of Practice (CoPs) are defined as groups of people who share a common interest, concern, or a passion about a topic, and who aim to deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis (Wenger et al., 2002). As such, they provide "a promising theme in the professional development of teachers" (p. 352) and a good framework for examining teachers' learning (Patton & Parker, 2017). The application of CoP in educational research has suggested a positive impact for teacher professional learning (Goos, 2014). While there is much interest in the CoP approach to mathematics teacher professional learning (e.g., Jaworski, 2005), less is known about the impact of this approach on mathematics teachers' pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) in a specific content area such as algebra word problems.
In this study, the first author established a CoP initiative where a group of eight junior high school mathematics teachers in Ghana met regularly during six months (once a month) to explore pedagogical strategies intended to support students in solving algebraic word problems. Whilst word problems are applied within most domains of mathematics in the Ghanaian mathematics teaching syllabus (e.g., fractions, integers), it is particularly in the algebra strand that most students find them challenging. A major difficulty is in "translating word problems into mathematical equations" (West African Examinations Council, p. 311).
Within the mentioned CoP, the teachers shared ideas and reflected on their use of various adopted strategies with their students. In this short presentation we provide some examples to illustrate the influence of the CoP on participating teachers' PCK in relation to the use of visual representations such as bar models in solving algebra word problems.
Publication titleProceedings of the 44th Annual Conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia
EditorsN Fitzallen, C Murphy, V Hatisaru, & N Maher
Pagination1 piece- abstract
Department/SchoolSchool of Social Sciences
Place of publicationAustralia
Event titleMathematics Education Research Group of Australasia
Event VenueLaunceston, Tasmania
Date of Event (Start Date)2022-07-03
Date of Event (End Date)2022-07-07
Rights statementCopyright 2022 MERGA