, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 521-544

Subject matter knowledge for teaching and the case of functions

Abstract

Interest in teachers' subject matter knowledge has arisen in recent years. But most of the analysis has been general and not topic-specific. This paper shows how one may approach the question of teachers' knowledge about mathematical topics. It demonstrates the building of an analytic framework of subject matter knowledge for teaching a specific topic in mathematics and then uses the concept of function to provide an illustrative case of a paradigm for analyzing subject matter knowledge for teaching. The choice of the aspects, which form the main facets of the framework, was based on integrated knowledge from several bodies of work: the role and importance of the topic in the discipline of mathematics and in the mathematics curriculum; research and theoretical work on learning, knowledge and understanding of mathematical concepts in general and the specific topic in particular; and research and theoretical work on teachers' subject matter knowledge and its role in teaching. An application of the framework in the case of the concept of function is described and illustrated by anecdotes drawn from a study of prospective secondary teachers' knowledge and understanding of functions.

Recipient of a Sir Charles Clore Post-Doctoral Fellowship.