, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 205–213 | Cite as

Using narrative inquiry for investigating the becoming of a mathematics teacher

  • Raimo KaasilaEmail author
Original article


This article presents narrative inquiry as a method for research in mathematics education, in particular the study of how pre-service teachers’ views of mathematics develop during elementary teacher education. I describe two different, complementary approaches to applying narrative analysis, one focusing on the content of a narrative, the other focusing on the form. The examples discussed are taken from interviews with and teaching portfolios compiled by four pre-service teachers. In analysing the content of the students’ narratives, I use emplotment to construct a retrospective explanation of how one pre-service teacher’s own experiences at school were reflected in the development of her mathematical identity. In analysing the form of the narratives, I also look at how the students told their stories, using linguistic features, for example, to identify core events in the accounts. This particular focus seems to be promising in locating turning points in the trainees’ views of mathematics.


Teacher Education Mathematics Teacher Linguistic Feature Mathematics Lesson Narrative Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Barthes, R. (1988). Introduction to structural analysis of narratives. In R. Barthes (Ed.), The semiotic challenge (pp. 95–135). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  2. Bikner-Ashbahs, A. (2003). A social extension of a psychological interest theory. In: Proceedings of PME27. Retrieved from (
  3. Brown. T. (2003). Mathematical identity in initial teacher training. In: Proceedings of PME 27. Available online (
  4. Bruner, J. (1986). Actual minds, possible worlds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bruner, J. (1991). The narrative construction of reality. Critical Inquiry, 18, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Capps, E., & Ochs, L. (1995). Constructing panic: the discourse of agoraphobia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Clandinin, D.J., & Connelly, M. (2000). Narrative inquiry. Experience and Story in Qualitative Research. San Francisco: Wiley.Google Scholar
  8. Connelly, F., & Clandinin, D. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(4), 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Denzin, N. (1989). Interpretive biography. Qualitative research methods series. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Elbaz-Luwisch, F. (2002). Immigrant teachers: stories of self and place. (∼freemae/immigrant%20teachers%20rev.doc).
  11. Gellert, U. (2000). Mathematics instruction in safe space: prospective elementary teachers’ views of mathematics education. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education 3(3).Google Scholar
  12. Gellert, U. (2001). Research on attitudes in mathematics education: a discursive perspective. In M. van den Heuvel-Panhuizen (Ed.) In: Proceedings of the PME25. Vol. 3 (pp. 33–40), Utrecht: Utrecht University.Google Scholar
  13. Gudmundsdottir, S. (1996). The teller, the tale, and the one being told: the narrative nature of the research interview. Curriculum Inquiry, 23(3), 293–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hannula, M.S. (2003). Fictionalising experiences—experiencing through fiction. For the Learning of Mathematics, 23(3), 33–39.Google Scholar
  15. Heikkinen, H., Syrjälä, L., Huttunen, R. & Estola, E. (2004). It is a living thing. Narratives in teacher education. A paper presented at ECER 2004, Crete, University of Rethymnon.Google Scholar
  16. Kaasila, R. (2000). “Eläydyin oppilaiden asemaan [An insight into the role of pupils.” The significance of school recollections in the formation of the conceptions and teaching practices of mathematics for preservice teachers] Acta Universitatis Lapponiensis 32, Rovaniemi, Doctoral dissertation.Google Scholar
  17. Kaasila, R., Hannula, M.S., Laine A., & Pehkonen, E. (2006). Facilitators for change of elementary teacher student’s view of Mathematics. In: J. Novotna, H. Morakova, M Kratka & N. Stehlokova (Eds.), In: Proceedings of the PME30, Vol 3. (pp. 385–392). Prague: University of Prague.Google Scholar
  18. Labov, W. (1972). Language in the inner city. Studies in the black english vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  19. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). The metaphorical structure of the human conceptual system. Cognitive Science, 4, 195–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lieblich, A., Tuval-Mashiach, R., & Zilber, T. (1998). Narrative research. Reading, analysis and interpretation. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Linde, C. (1993). The creation of coherence. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Mishler, E. (1986). Research interviewing. Context and narrative. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Op ‘t Eynde, P., De Corte, E., & Verschaffel, L. (2002). Framing students’ mathematics-related beliefs: quest for conceptual clarity and a comprehensive categorization. In: G. Leder, E. Pehkonen, & G. Törner (Eds.), Beliefs: a hidden variable in mathematics education (pp. 13–37). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  24. Op ‘t Eynde, P. (2004). A socio-constructivist perspective on the study of affect in mathematics education. In M. Høines & A. Fuglestad (Eds.), In: Proceedings of the PME Vol. 1 (pp. 118–122). Bergen: Bergen University College.Google Scholar
  25. Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms. Children, computers and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  26. Pehkonen, E., & Pietilä, A. (2003). On relationships between beliefs and knowledge in mathematics education. In: Proceedings of the CERME-3, (∼didattica/CERME3/proceedings/Groups/TG2/TG2_pehkonen_cerme3.pdf).
  27. Polkinghorne, D. (1995). Narrative configuration in qualitative analysis. In: J. Hatch, & R. Wisniewski (Eds.), Life history and narrative (pp. 5–23). London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  28. Ricoeur P. (1983). Time and narrative 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Ricoeur, P. (1992). Oneself as another. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  30. Riessman, K. (1993). Narrative analysis. Qualitative research methods series. 30. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  31. Schütze, F. (1984). Kognitive figuren des autobiographischen stegreiferzählens. In: M. Kohli & G. Robert (Hrsg.) Biographie und Soziale Wirklichkeit (pp. 78–117). Stuttgart: Metzler.Google Scholar
  32. Seah, W.T. (2002). The perception of, and interaction with, value differences by immigrant teachers of mathematics in two Australian secondary classrooms. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 23, 189–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Smeyers, P., & Verhesschen, P. (2001). Narrative analysis as philosophical research: bridging the gap between the empirical and the conceptual. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 14, 71–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Smith, T. (2003). Connecting theory and reflective practice through the use of personal theories. In: N. Pateman, B. Dougherty, & J. Zilliox (Eds.), In: Proceedings of PME27, Vol 4. University of Hawaii, (pp. 215–222). Honolulu.Google Scholar
  35. Smith, S., Williams, S., & Smith, M. (2005) A process model for change in elementary mathematics teachers’ beliefs and practices. In: G. Lloyd, M. Wilson, J. Wilkins, & S. Behm. (Eds.), In: Proceedings of PME-NA 27. Roanoke, Virginia: Virginia Polytechnic Institute.Google Scholar
  36. Spence, P. (1984). Narrative truth and historical truth. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  37. Tannen, D. (1979). What’s in a frame? Surface evidence for underlying expectations. In: R. Freedle (Eds.), New directions in discourse processing (pp. 137–181). New Jersey: Norwood.Google Scholar
  38. Valkonen, J. (1997). Tarinallisuus kuntoutuksessa. [Narrative in rehabilitation]. Psykologia, 6, 415–426.Google Scholar
  39. Weiner, B. (1986). An attributional theory of motivation and emotion. New York: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of LaplandRovaniemiFinland

Personalised recommendations