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Towards new documentation systems for mathematics teachers?


We study in this article mathematics teachers’ documentation work: looking for resources, selecting/designing mathematical tasks, planning their succession, managing available artifacts, etc. We consider that this documentation work is at the core of teachers’ professional activity and professional development. We introduce a distinction between available resources and documents developed by teachers through a documentational genesis process, in a perspective inspired by the instrumental approach. Throughout their documentation work, teachers develop documentation systems, and the digitizing of resources entails evolutions of these systems. The approach we propose aims at seizing these evolutions, and more generally at studying teachers’ professional change.

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    GUPTEn stands for, in French: Genesis of Professional Use of Technologies by Teachers. This French national research project is headed by Jean-Baptiste Lagrange.

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    SFoDEM stands for, in French: Distance Training Support for Mathematics Teachers.


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We wish to sincerely thank Carolyn Kieran for her kind help in rereading our paper and helping us to correct our English language, and, more generally, for her valuable advice.

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Correspondence to Ghislaine Gueudet.


Appendix 1: interview guidelines

Teachers are interviewed at their own place, where they keep their resources. It is most of the time in a specific room, their office at home, with a computer connected to the Internet. A one-hour interview is planned, in a rather informal manner, but following the guidelines exposed here. The discussion is recorded, and photos of the office are taken. The interviews took place between April and June 2007, thus at the end of the school year.

First part: inventory, rationale of the documents used this year.

The questions are of the following form: “For your teaching, from the beginning of the year, which documents (book, personal documents, web site…) did you use? Which has been the most important?”

Second part: detailed presentation of three documents.

We ask the teachers to present in detail three of the most important documents of the year, and their history (the teacher proposes him/herself the documents, with at least one personal production):

  • If it is not a personal production: how was it encountered, chosen, modified, used...

  • If it is a personal production: which sources were used; was it elaborated by the teacher on her own, or with colleagues; how was it used, was it modified after use; what is planned for it in the future: communication to colleagues in particular.

Third part: past and future.

  • Ten years ago, how would you have answered the first part? Have you been influenced by specific resources? Which ones?

  • What do you think you would answer in 10 years? Which sources will you use, how would you access these sources? Will you work on their elaboration on your own, or with colleagues? Will these documents be broadcast, and how? What would be for you a dream resource?

Appendix 2: profiles of the teachers interviewed

Table 1 Explanations regarding the content of the table: Collège: grades 6 to 9, students aged 11 to 16; Lycée: grades 10 to 12, students aged 16 to 18; APM: Association of mathematics teachers; CAPES: Teaching certificate (national competition); IREM: Institute for Research on Mathematics Teaching; INRP: National Institute for Pedagogical Research

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Gueudet, G., Trouche, L. Towards new documentation systems for mathematics teachers?. Educ Stud Math 71, 199–218 (2009).

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  • Artifacts
  • Curriculum material
  • Digital resources
  • Documents
  • Documentational geneses
  • Instruments
  • Operational invariants
  • Teacher beliefs
  • Professional development