Stability of beliefs in mathematics education: a critical analysis
Peter Liljedahl, Susan Oesterle and Christian Bernèche
The field of mathematics education has assumed for too long that stability is an inherent and definable characteristic of beliefs. In this article we explore the validity of this claim through the critical analysis of 92 journal articles, conference papers, and book chapters. Using a stringent definition of what it means for a belief to be stable, we conclude that the body of research on mathematical beliefs is inconsistent in its use of this construct. The aggregated results of our analysis also indicate that stability and instability are not mutually exclusive characteristics of beliefs.
Dr. Peter Liljedahl is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He is a former high school mathematics teacher who has kept his research interests and activities close to the classroom. He regularly works closely with teachers, schools, school districts, and ministries of education on issues pertaining to the improvement of teaching and learning. His primary research interests are teacher beliefs, teacher education, and creativity in mathematics.
Dr. Susan Oesterle is a Mathematics instructor in the Faculty of Science & Technology at Douglas College in New Westminster, Canada. Over the last few years she has been heavily involved in developing and teaching in a Graduate Diploma Program for Mathematics and Science Teaching, a two-year program which provides an opportunity for practicing elementary and middle school teachers to build their knowledge-base and improve their teaching of these subjects. Her current research interests include pre-service and in-service teacher education, teacher beliefs, and issues concerning mathematics teacher educators.
Christian Bernèche is a PhD student in Mathematics Education at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. He has been teaching for over two decades and is presently teaching Grade 6. He is a member of his local Professional Development Committee and strongly believes in selfdirected professional growth plans. His area of interest in research is student perceptions about learning and teaching mathematics.