Exploring secondary mathematics teachers’ conceptions of mathematical literacy

Genç, Murat
The purpose of this research study was to investigate secondary mathematics teachers’ conceptions of mathematical literacy. In doing so, the following three crucial interrelated issues were addressed: (i) teachers’ conceptions of what the notion of mathematical literacy means, (ii) teachers’ conceptions of how the development of mathematical literacy could be facilitated, and (iii) teachers’ conceptions of what a mathematics curriculum emphasizing mathematical literacy should look like. The data gathered for this study were done by means of semi-structured interviews in three distinct stages with 16 in-service mathematics teachers from various types of secondary schools during the spring semester of 2014-2015. In order to capture more comprehensive understanding of teachers’ conception of mathematical literacy, each interview was also supplemented by researcher-designed tasks. The content analysis of data began with the data collection process with the help of the qualitative data analysis software NVivo10. The coding scheme was initially developed relying on the conceptual framework and research questions and then was expanded, and refined, in accordance with an ongoing analysis of the data. The results of this study indicated that teachers’ conceptions of the concept of mathematical literacy were identified as the nature of mathematical literacy, fundamental mathematical capabilities for mathematical literacy, and relationships between mathematics and mathematical literacy. Secondly, teachers’ conceptions of the effective development of mathematical literacy were classified as barriers to development of mathematical literacy, and central domains for mathematical literacy development. Finally, teachers’ conceptions of mathematics curriculum emphasizing mathematical literacy were categorized as challenges in curriculum implementation in the context of mathematical literacy, and recommended curriculum modifications in relation to mathematical literacy. Based on the research findings, teachers’ competence and disposition toward mathematical literacy, early mathematical literacy development, and mathematics curriculum emphasizing mathematical literacy understanding were reported to be of paramount importance for effective mathematical literacy development.