Learning from lessons
Studying the structure and construction of mathematics teacher knowledge in Australia, China and Germany
The major premise of this project is that teachers learn from the act of teaching a lesson. Rather than asking “What must a teacher already know in order to practice effectively?”, this project asks “What might a teacher learn through their activities in the classroom and how might this learning be optimised?” In this project, controlled conditions are created utilising purposefully designed and trialled lesson plans to investigate the process of teacher knowledge construction, with teacher selective attention proposed as a key mediating variable. In order to investigate teacher learning through classroom practice, the project addresses the following questions: To what classroom objects, actions and events do teachers attend and with what consequence for their learning? Do teachers in different countries attend to different classroom events and consequently derive different learning benefits from teaching a lesson? This international project combines focused case studies with an online survey of mathematics teachers’ selective attention and consequent learning in Australia, China and Germany. Data include the teacher’s adaptation of a pre-designed lesson, the teacher’s actions during the lesson, the teacher’s reflective thoughts about the lesson and, most importantly, the consequences for the planning and delivery of a second lesson. The combination of fine-grained, culturally situated case studies and large-scale online survey provides mutually informing benefits from each research approach. The research design, so constituted, offers the means to a new and scalable vision of teacher learning and its promotion.