Learning Across Discipline Boundaries Through Narrative Inquiry: A Study of Collaboration to Improve Mathematics Teacher Education


  • Edwina Butler
  • Elena Prieto
  • Judy-anne Osborn
  • Peter Howley
  • Adam Lloyd
  • Andrew Kepert
  • Malcolm Roberts


Improving mathematics education is an issue that arises periodically in the media and is the object of frequent, and sometimes contradictory, policy efforts and academic endeavours. Strategies used to tackle this issue range from raising requirements for tertiary entry to focussing on innovative pedagogies. One strategy with the potential to enhance pre-service teacher education is to improve collaboration between the stakeholders charged with providing this education: mathematicians and teacher educators. However, finding ways to enhance collaboration across discipline boundaries remains largely unexplored in this context.
This paper studies the development of a multidisciplinary team of university academics collaborating to improve mathematics pre-service teacher education. To facilitate this collaboration and shared learning, a narrative inquiry process was utilised. The process enabled members to explore, deepen and sustain their connections with one another and their understanding of the shared focus underpinning their work as teacher educators. Our thematic analysis of the narratives obtained, highlights factors that enhance or potentially hinder multidisciplinary interactions and learning. Multidisciplinary teams may use their increased knowledge of these factors, and the process of narrative inquiry itself, to reflect upon their current and future collaborations. This allows such teams to preclude, manage, and respond to challenges in ways that can ultimately enhance pre-service teacher education.