Modelling Teachers' Promotion of Powerful Positive Affect in the Primary Mathematics Classroom

Modelling Teachers' Promotion of Powerful Positive Affect in the Primary Mathematics Classroom

Shaileigh Page (Flinders University, Australia) and Julie Clark (Flinders University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7495-0.ch004
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This chapter describes and analyses teachers' promotion of powerful positive affect in primary mathematics classrooms. A qualitative approach (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005) was used for the study described herein, which focused on the interactions between the participants; their thoughts, affect and actions, along with the identification of complex factors that facilitated and constrained their pedagogical change. The design of the study was founded on the argument that teachers significantly influence students' learning in the classroom; therefore, teachers' voices related to their learning and practices are central to the findings presented in this research. Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (Engeström, 1987, 1999) and the Stages of Concern (Hall & Hord, 2006) were applied in the analysis to understand teachers' adoption and development of tools that promote powerful positive affect. In conclusion, a conceptual model summarises the factors influencing teachers' work in this area.
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The Affective Domain

There has been much interest in the affective domain in mathematics education research and in fact, researchers urge that “the affective domain cannot be ignored” (Schuck & Grootenboer, 2004, p. 66). It is widely accepted that the affective and cognitive domains are interconnected psychological constructs and educational research has, in particular, identified and focused on the affective domain as an important part of the teaching and learning process.

Theorising the affective domain has been a significant yet very difficult task for researchers. Further complicating this issue is that “no single theory of affect in mathematics education ... would accurately represent all relevant aspects of affect” (Hannula, 2006, p. 209). The ambiguous nature of the elements of the affective domain partnered with the fact that these terms have different meanings in psychology than in mathematics education (McLeod, 1992, p. 576) add to the complexities of this issue.

A number of authors have made significant attempts to define and clarify the affective domain since the 1980s, many of which are now highly valued and accepted in the field of education and psychology (Evans, 2006). According to a significant meta-summary of previous research on the affective domain conducted by McLeod (1992), “the affective domain refers to a wide range of beliefs, feelings and moods that are beyond the domain of cognition” (p. 576). Leder (2006) explained that affect “is often conceptualized in terms of attitudes, beliefs, values, emotions, and feelings” (p. 203). A common thread to all definitions is the complexity and multifaceted nature of the affective domain.

Although there has been a great deal of interest in, and research on, the elements of affect, they are often implicitly taught and unconsciously developed within the mathematics classroom. In contrast, we argue that there is a need for the explicit and holistic teaching of these elements, or in other words, explicit teaching of beliefs, emotions, attitudes and values that promote positive dispositions including engagement, mathematical success, and wellbeing.

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