Being (Almost) a Mathematician: Teacher Identity Formation in Post-Secondary Mathematics

  • Author / Creator
    Beisiegel, Mary deRaeve
  • Within the field of mathematics teacher education, mathematics graduate students have recently become subjects of investigation. While research in this area tends to focus on future schoolteachers, little has been done to examine prospective university teachers of mathematics and their understanding of its teaching and learning. As a result, the experiences of mathematics graduate students and the development of their teaching practices are not well understood. Almost seventy-five percent of mathematics PhDs will become professors at post-secondary institutions dedicated to undergraduate education. Since much of their careers will be spent in the classroom, attending to the manner in which mathematics graduate students develop their teaching practices is important in understanding how they are shaped for their future profession. The purpose of this research project was to uncover issues and difficulties that arise as mathematics graduate students develop their views of their possible future roles as university teachers of mathematics. Over a six-month period, conversations were held with six mathematics graduate students exploring their experiences of and perspectives on mathematics teaching. Using hermeneutic inquiry and thematic analysis, the conversations were analysed and interpreted with attention to themes and experiences that had the potential to influence the graduate students’ ideas about and approaches to the task of teaching. This dissertation also attends to notions of identity for mathematics graduate students, in particular their emerging identities as mathematicians and what being a mathematician in the world means to them, as well as their identities as future post-secondary teachers of mathematics. The structures and expectations of behaviour within their department of mathematics had implications for how the participants formed their identities as mathematicians and mathematics teachers. Lave and Wenger’s notion of legitimate peripheral participation is explored with regard to the meta-themes that came through the analysis. These meta-themes are: replication – where university mathematics teacher identity and classroom practices became a process of replication; resignation – the research participants felt resigned to one particular way of being in mathematics and of mathematics teaching; and despondence – the participants were beginning to lose their excitement about becoming post-secondary teachers of mathematics.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Secondary Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Pimm, David (Secondary Education)
    • Rogers, Pat (Education, University of Windsor)
    • Wimmer, Randolph (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Carson, Terrance (Secondary Education)