Competences of Mathematics Teachers in Diagnosing Teaching Situations and Offering Feedback to Students: Specificity, Consistency and Reification of Pedagogical and Mathematical Discourses

  • Irene BizaEmail author
  • Elena Nardi
  • Theodossios Zachariades
Part of the Mathematics Teacher Education book series (MTEN, volume 11)


In the study we report in this chapter, we investigate the competences of mathematics pre- and in-service teachers in diagnosing situations pertaining to mathematics teaching and in offering feedback to the students at the heart of said situations. To this aim we deploy a research design that involves engaging teachers with situation-specific tasks in which we invite participants to: solve a mathematical problem; examine a (fictional yet research-informed) solution proposed by a student in class and a (fictional yet research-informed) teacher response to the student; and, describe the approach they themselves would adopt in this classroom situation. Participants were 23 mathematics graduates enrolled in a post-graduate mathematics education programme, many already in-service teachers. They responded to a task that involved debating the identification of a tangent line at an inflection point of a cubic function through resorting to the formal definition of tangency or the function graph. Analysis of their written responses to the task revealed a great variation in the participants’ diagnosing and addressing of teaching issues – in this case involving the role of visualisation in mathematical reasoning. We describe this variation in terms of a typology of four interrelated characteristics that emerged from the data analysis: consistency between stated beliefs/knowledge and intended practice, specificity of the response to the given classroom situation, reification of pedagogical discourses, and reification of mathematical discourses. We propose that deploying the theoretical construct of these characteristics in tandem with our situation-specific task design can contribute towards the identification – as well as reflection upon and development – of mathematics teachers’ diagnostic competences in teacher education and professional development programmes.



This study is partially supported by the grant of an annual Erasmus Teaching Staff Mobility programme that has been in place between our institutions since 2002.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Biza
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elena Nardi
    • 1
  • Theodossios Zachariades
    • 2
  1. 1.University of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.National and Kapodistrian University of AthensAthensGreece

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