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Narrative inquiry of students learning mathematics at grade six

Research project

Conducted at a grade six Swedish classroom, this project deploys narrative inquiry to understand the voices and strategies of students while learning mathematics. Providing an anthorpological perspective to the participation of students, the conduct of narrative inquiry offers a vicarious means with which to access the world in which students are acting. The utilisation of narrative inquiry is also understood as a means with which to empower the understanding that teachers as practitioners adopt in their own teaching. The potential of the narrative as a means with which to bridge the persistent gap between policy, practice and research is also explored.

Project overview

Project period:

2009-01-21 2009-06-12

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Science and Mathematics Education, Faculty of Science and Technology

Research subject

Educational sciences, Mathematics

Project description

Conducted with a grade six Swedish classroom, this project draws on the theoretical perspectives of Jerome Bruner and David Olson, who argue in favour of an anthropology of schooling as also the conduct of narrative inquiry. Their approach allows for understanding the goals of schooling as well as the means with which to access them. Narrative inquiry is means with which to access another powerful and central notion they argue – that of intersubjectivity. Via these theoretical and methodological perspectives there is promise of inquiring, even if vicariously, of the world-making of students within which they act. A narrative approach is also recognised as the medium in which most practitioners work when they relate to either students, parents, fellow teachers or in acts of mentorship. Recognising narratives in robust terms of research has the potential therefore to empower the tacit repertoires of practising teachers, which in turn becomes a vehicle with which to recognise such manner of thinking in students as well.

Conducted as a participant observer during the spring term of 2009, this project approached the classroom instruction of mathematics in a naturalistic manner and analysed the participation of students in classroom instruction led entirely by the teacher. In the conduct of narrative inquiry, this study intended to uncover the voices and strategies of students in the meaning they were making of the classroom teaching-learning of mathematics.

The above project extends the sociocultural understanding of meaning making by students in a classroom and doctoral study; and is supported financially by a post-doctoral scholarship provided by the Kempe foundation, Sweden.