Teachers developing as researchers: teachers investigate their use of questions in mathematics

Funding year: 
1 year
Victoria University of Wellington
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2006
Project end date: 
January 2007
Principal investigator(s): 
Linda Bonne
Research team members: 
Ruth Pritchard, Shane Gault, Vanessa Hendry, Paulette Holland, Gillian Kissling, Susan Kliffen, Mark Kyne, Catherine Miller, and Jan Treeby
Research partners: 
Victoria University of Wellington College of Education, with Seatoun School, Windley School, Rangikura School, Churton Park School, Te Aro School, and Redwood School

Project Description

I had the impression research was often done by a researcher to you, however,
this has shown that it can be embedded 
in your practice and the research can be for you.
                                                                                                Natalie, final questionnaire

Until relatively recently, the creation of a knowledge base for teaching has been largely perceived as belonging in the domain of the universities’ academic researchers, synthesised from data gathered by observers in classrooms. Existing research reflects a “looking from the outside in” perspective, and few investigations have looked from the “inside out” to represent the teachers’ perspective. There have been “prevailing concepts of the teacher as technician, consumer, receiver, transmitter, and implementer of other people’s knowledge” (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999, p. 16) that have contributed to the gap between research and practice.

In this research project, a group of teachers investigated their use of questioning to facilitate student learning in mathematics. Teacher-researchers were encouraged to act as reflective practitioners (Schön, 1995) and contribute to formulating their own interpretive frames (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1990), using methodologies established in the field of action research (Carr & Kemmis, 1986). Data gathering methods were chosen to enable teachers to have maximum control over the process, and that were responsive to the direction of the project as it evolved with input from the teacher-researchers over the year, reflecting a grounded theory approach, such as that described by Strauss and Corbin (1998).

Eight primary school teachers worked in partnership with two research team leaders to analyse two of their numeracy lessons in order to investigate aspects of questioning practice. The project was conducted over the 2006 school year in five primary schools in the Wellington area. The teacher-researchers and research team leaders shared responsibility for determining the shape and direction of the research.