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From Frustration to Understanding: An Inquiry into Secondary Mathematics Teachers’ Experiences with Government Mandated Examinations Open Access


Other title
Government examinations
Philosophical Hermeneutics
Diploma examinations
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Marynowski, Richelle M
Supervisor and department
Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
Examining committee member and department
Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education)
Leighton, Jacqueline (Educational Psychology)
Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)
Parsons, Jim (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of secondary mathematics teachers’ experiences in a context of government-mandated examinations (GMEs). Having had my own experiences teaching mathematics courses where students wrote a GME, I had my own understandings of GMEs. From conversations with teachers, I found that others did not share the same view of GMEs that I had developed. Using a philosophical hermeneutic research methodology and philosophy based on the writings of Gadamer, the experiences of three secondary mathematics teachers are examined. The study took place in Alberta, Canada, where the current GME program has been in place since 1984. The exams that students write in Grade 12 are considered high stakes for the students because 50% of their grade in the course is determined by their score on the GME. The exams are considered moderate stakes for teachers because student results on the exam are reported publicly. Through conversation with three experienced secondary mathematics teachers, I found that teachers feel that the GMEs are high stakes for themselves for very different reasons. Additionally, the teachers in this study expressed perceptions of and relationships with the GME that were unique to their experiences and contexts. Engaging in the hermeneutic circle of developing understanding, the stories of experience and the language that the participants used to describe their experiences are investigated. Specific experiences are outlined and analyzed with both commonalities and differences between experiences highlighted. Each of the teachers in this study used the phrase preparing students to write GMEs. Exploration of how the teachers prepared her students revealed their beliefs about mathematics teaching and learning. The exploration also revealed the teachers’ understandings of the role of GMEs. Mandated examinations are a visible part of the education system in Alberta, Canada, and the world. Understanding how teachers experience teaching within the context can provide insight into how teachers negotiate demands on their work.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: Secondary Mathematics Teachers��� Experiences in a Context of Government Mandated Examinations
File title: Secondary Mathematics Teachers??? Experiences in a Context of Government Mandated Examinations
File title: Secondary Mathematics Teachers Experiences in a Context of Government Mandated Examinations
File author: Richelle Marynowski
Page count: 168
File language: en-CA
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