The function concept and university mathematics teaching

University dissertation from Karlstad : Karlstads universitet

Abstract: This thesis concerns the teaching of mathematics at university level, with a particular focus on the teaching of the function concept. The main aim of the thesis is describing and analysing the teaching practices of university mathematics teachers regarding the function concept, and how this concept is constituted through these practices. To this end, video recordings of lectures by seven mathematics teachers at three Swedish universities were analysed using a discursive perspective, Sfard’s commognitive framework. The observed teaching was traditional in form, with teachers using “chalk talk” – simultaneously talking and writing on the board. The results show that the teaching practices of the teachers belong to two distinct but intertwined discourses – a mathematical discourse, and a discourse of mathematics teaching. Classifications of important aspects of these discourses are presented, and it is found that the teachers’ discursive practices, while sharing overall form, still display considerable differences. Other results include an analysis of the levels of objectification displayed by the teachers in their discursive constitution of the function concept. The study contributes to a small but growing body of empirical research on university mathematics teaching practice.

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