The teaching of mathematical problem-solving in Swedish classrooms: a case study of one grade five teacher’s practice
Anna Pansell and Paul Andrews
In this paper we examine the teaching of mathematical problem-solving to grade five students of one well-regarded and experienced Swedish teacher, whom we call Mary. Working within a decentralised curriculum in which problem-solving is centrally placed, Mary is offered little systemic support in her professional decision making with respect to problem-solving instruction. Drawing on Lester’s and Schroeder’s descriptions of teaching for, about and through problem-solving, we draw on multiple sources of data, derived from interviews and videotaped lessons, to examine how Mary’s problem-solving-related teaching is constituted in relation to the weakly framed curriculum and the unregulated textbooks that on which she draws. The analyses indicate that Mary’s emphases are on teaching for and about problem-solving rather than through, although the ambiguities that can be identified throughout her practice with respect to goals, curricular aims and the means of their achievement can also be identified in the curricular documents from which she draws.
Anna Pansell is a PhD student in Mathematics Education at Stockholm University. Her research interest is about understanding mathematics teachers and their teaching practice in relation to the classroom’s broader context. The PhD project is focused on one mathematics teacher in grade five and her decision-making in relation to the institutionell context within which she works.
Paul Andrews is Professor of Mathematics Education at Stockholm University. His current research is focused on the development of foundational number sense in year one students in England and Sweden (a project funded by the Swedish Research Council), Swedish and Cypriot teacher education students’ understanding of linear equations, Norwegian and Swedish upper secondary students’ beliefs about the purpose of school mathematics, and examining the extent to which PISA misreports Swedish students’ mathematical competence.