Norwegian thesis: Tone Bulien

Tone Bulien has defended her thesis (dr. polit): Matematikkopplevelser i lærerutdanningen : en fenomenologisk orientert narrativ analyse av studenttekster (in Norwegian). The thesis is freely available as a pdf, and here is the abstract:

The thesis is a study of texts from and interviews with six Norwegian teacher students enrolled in a compulsory course in mathematics. It is a critical constructive descriptive investigation where the aim has been to listen to the students sharing their experiences studying mathematics. The thesis is not intended as an evaluation of the teacher education program, the students’ work or methodology, but rather as a contribution towards defining the didactic challenges teacher training is faced with. The thesis proceeds from a phenomenological perspective, using narratives as an important feature in both the analysis itself and the presentation of the results. Using phenomenologically oriented knowledge sociology and theories of narrative analysis, a description of the students’ perceptions of teaching and learning mathematics, both prior to and in the course of the compulsory course, is made visible through narratives. The methodology employed is narrative analysis. The students’ experiences are divided into four main areas of beliefs: beliefs about mathematics in general, beliefs about themselves as practitioners of mathematics, beliefs about teaching mathematics, and beliefs about how mathematics are learnt. One of the results indicated that the students’ experience of the compulsory course in mathematics did not depend on their previously held beliefs on mathematics education or their attitudes towards mathematics in general. Another result was that about 50% of all the students had higher expectations about their grade at the beginning of the semester than what they actually ended up with at the end. The reason for this remains to be conclusively demonstrated, but it seems likely that the way mathematics is taught in a teacher training program differs from the students’ previous experiences in how to learn mathematics. This should be taken into consideration in prospective mathematics programs, for instance by supervising the students about their own beliefs in a meta-perspective by analyzing their own narratives and how they are subject to alterations during the course.

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