Teacher learning in action: Understanding teacher learning in an inquiry group

Challice Rickard, University of Pennsylvania


In this study, I explore how a group of elementary teachers created a context for their learning. In monthly inquiry meetings, they considered new ways to conceptualize mathematics, student learning and problems of practice. Over the course of two years, the teachers constructed ways of connecting that work to their classrooms and to larger problems of practice within teaching. The study focused on. (1) how shifts in the object of the activity were initiated; (2) ways the division of labor led to the construction of authority within the group; (3) uncovering the rules of engagement and how they comprised conventions of collaboration; (4) how the teachers' work as mediated by the nodes of the activity triangle led to learning practices; and (5) understanding the context for learning created out of the group's activity. This study was based upon two years of monthly inquiry group meetings, monthly classroom observations, and teacher interviews. The study confirms that teachers readily participate in activities geared toward learning mathematics and that participating in these activities fosters thinking about student learning and other problems of practice in new ways. In addition, the data analysis shows how practices resulted from the group's work as it was mediated by the elements of the activity triangle. The practices were essential in fostering the group's learning. By illuminating how all the elements of the activity triangle worked together, a model of learning emerged. The model of learning illuminates a context that promotes learning. These findings suggest that offering opportunities to engage in mathematical tasks is a potentially powerful starting point for teacher learning initiatives, but that all the elements of an activity system account for ways in which a context is a context for learning.

Subject Area

Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Rickard, Challice, "Teacher learning in action: Understanding teacher learning in an inquiry group" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3179795.