Mathematics teachers in context: Practices and perceptions

Year: 2005

Author: Leder, Gilah, Forgasz, Helen

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In this paper, findings are reported from a recently conducted pilot study in which the Experience Sampling Method [ESM] was used to monitor the daily lives of a group of secondary school mathematics teachers in Victoria, Australia. The specific aims of the study were (1) to compare the work patterns of experienced and novice mathematics teachers, (2) to explore situations likely to produce teacher stress - a frequently cited concomitant of teaching, and (3) to determine the feasibility of a larger scale project on these and related topics.

The range of tasks undertaken by the participants in the study was extensive and stretched well beyond formal working hours.

In common with other researchers we found overlap as well as differences in the tasks and work patterns of experienced and novice teachers, and in the activities they appeared to find stressful. Administrative tasks were more likely to be a cause of stress for the experienced teachers; teaching related activities for the novices.

Based on the findings of this pilot study, we would argue that the ESM, supported by interviews, elicits informative descriptions of the realities confronting teachers and their feelings about them, and is a useful research tool.