Pre-service Teachers as Agents of Change in the Mathematics Classroom: A Case Study

Jillian White, Patrick Johnson, Merrilyn Goos


The pre-service teacher followed in this paper aimed to act as an agent of change during a time of reform in Irish post primary mathematics education. A teacher-researcher led action research project was conducted to depict the reality of the situation regarding the implementation of mathematical problem solving from a variety of perspectives – namely those of the pre-service teacher/teacher-researcher, the second-level students, and the other mathematics teachers in the school. A problem-based approach to teaching and learning was implemented by the teacher-researcher using Van de Walle’s teaching through problem solving framework. Following this intervention, participating students showed an improvement in engagement with mathematical problem solving and expressed positive opinions regarding the problem based approach to teaching and learning. Meanwhile, other mathematics teachers in the school expressed concerns relating to the reality of implementing problem solving in their classrooms, however these concerns were not issues faced by the author when implementing problem solving in the same setting. When these concerns were indirectly challenged by the pre-service teacher a change in conversation occurred.


pre-service teacher; agent of change; problem based learning; teaching through problem solving; teacher assumptions

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