Making Sense of Contextualised Tasks in Prevocational Mathematics: A Critical Discursive Perspective

Jill Ryan, University, My, Sue Thomas
2018
This study investigated how, and how much, one school's Prevocational Mathematics students and teachers drew on the new reform discourses for senior schooling in general and senior school mathematics/numeracy in particular to make sense of the contextualised tasks that were an integral part of the subject. It is situated within a critical research perspective that conceptualises mathematics education as a complex, multi-layered network of social practices. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)
more » ... Analysis (CDA) provided the main theoretical and analytical foundations for the study. An approach to CDA that foregrounds the relationship between discourse and social change was considered to be particularly salient for investigating the subject-specific translation of senior schooling reforms into the Prevocational Mathematics syllabus and their subsequent enactment in the classroom. The notion of recontextualisation—a process of relocating elements of one social practice in the context of another—was central to the conceptualising of policy discourses (instantiated in curriculum reform and subject-specific syllabus documents) and classroom discourses (instantiated in written task specifications) as links in a genre chain. The process of operationalisation, whereby changes in discourse are transformed into new ways of acting and interacting, and new ways of organising time and space also contributed to the conceptual framework. Together, the concepts of genre chains, recontextualisation and operationalisation were used to theorise the research 'across the nodes' of the network of social practices. Thus, the study traced (dis)continuities between (i) the discourses associated with senior school educational reform processes, (ii) their recontextualisation and operationalisation into subject-specific discourses in the Prevocational Mathematics syllabus, and (iii) the further recontextualisation and operationalisation of these discourses in the classroom practices of one school's Year 11 and 12 classes.
doi:10.25904/1912/3760 fatcat:v43lq3rjdbdgzmbzn3hefjlgne