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|HOW TO STIMULATE RICH INTERACTIONS AND REFLECTIONS IN ONLINE MATHEMATICS TEACHER EDUCATION?
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|This dissertation reports on a theoretical and empirical study of the emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections in online in-service teacher education. The study begins by presenting two comprehensive reviews of the research literature on mathematics teacher education. In the first review the current research trends in this field are identified, among which reflective thinking and online teacher education are included. Besides providing an overview of the current state of research on mathematics teacher education, the first review helps to justify the scientific relevance of this research. The second review focuses on clarifying how the concept of reflection is defined in the research literature and why it is considered as particularly relevant to the professional development of mathematics teachers. Taking into consideration the information obtained through the literature reviews, but also drawing on my practical experiences in the design and implementation of online in-service courses for mathematics teachers, two research questions are formulated: (1) what are the characteristics of the online interactions that promote emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections? and (2) which non-human elements of an online course promote the emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections? These two questions are investigated through the design, implementation and analysis of the outcomes of two online in-service courses for mathematics teachers. The courses contain some special elements aimed at fostering interactions and reflections among the teachers. These elements are asynchronous discussion forums; “notes of iii reflections” which are written case studies in which a fictional situation is described; and heterogeneous working groups were the members of the groups have different opinions on the issues being discussed. Such elements create a setting in which the study of online interactions and reflections is facilitated. To answer the research question (1) a characterisation of the communicative acts that are present in online interactions where teachers’ reflections appear is carried out. Then, the common characteristics that are considered as key to the emergence of teachers’ reflections are located. The results indicate that the evaluative acts and the challenging acts are crucial for the emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections. To answer the research question (2) a connection between the resources that are part of an online course and the reflections that emerge within the online course are established. Through such connection the resources that influence the formation of teachers’ reflections are located. It is found that theoretical concepts from mathematics education research are resources that help to trigger the emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the theoretical implications and practical applications of the research results. The main contributions of this research are: (1) a characterisation of the concept of reflection which allows to transform such a cognitive process into a researchable and identifiable entity within an online setting; (2) the identification of the communicative characteristics of an online interaction that favour the emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections; and (3) the identification of elements in the design of an online course that promote the emergence of mathematics teachers’ reflections.
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