Understandings and perceptions of mastery approaches to mathematics: The case of beginning secondary teachers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This study reports on the perceptions and understanding of beginning
teachers regarding mastery approaches to teaching mathematics to 11–16-
year-olds. It draws on qualitative data from six semi-structured interviews
using vignettes designed to interrogate teachers’ understanding of the
features of mastery learning within their practice. The data were transcribed
and analysed thematically, drawing on the literature in the field. Whilst
capturing the full complexity of beginning teachers’ perceptions and
understanding is beyond the scope of this study, the data provides insight
into these teachers’ experiences at a time when mastery learning discourse
is prominent in England. The study found that beginning teachers had
different interpretations of the principles of mastery learning. It also found
tensions between beginning teachers’ beliefs, practice, professional
knowledge and sense of agency in their developing classroom roles. Some
beginning teachers found it challenging to talk about pedagogy and had
continuing misconceptions about teaching and mastery approaches.
Keywords: secondary mathematics; mastery; beginning teachers, initial
teacher education
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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