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

  • Author / Creator
    Marynowski, Richelle M
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2014-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3V698M3X
  • 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
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of Secondary Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Simmt, Elaine (Secondary Education)
    • Parsons, Jim (Secondary Education)
    • Leighton, Jacqueline (Educational Psychology)
    • Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)