Primary school teachers' feelings about teaching mathematics using a problem-solving approach : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The importance of teaching the problem solving approach in the mathematics curriculum has been centralised for many years in both curriculum development and research. Yet there is still resistance from teachers to adopting the problem-solving approach when teaching mathematics. The existing literature identifies that teachers' beliefs, attitudes, mathematical knowledge, and previous experiences in learning mathematics effect their ability to implement the problem-solving approach in mathematics, but little is known about the emotional side of the experiences of adopting problem-solving approach by primary school teachers. Emotions have a pivotal role in learning and learning outcomes. Emotions affect learning and learning affects emotions, therefore, they are central to efficient teaching and learning processes. To understand and gain insights into teachers' emotions in teaching problem-solving approach in mathematics, the aim of this research is to explore New Zealand primary school teachers' feelings in the implementation of the problem-solving approach. Qualitative research methods were employed to collect the in-depth data from four primary school teachers using semi-structured interviews via Zoom. The cognitive theory of emotions 'The OCC theory' and thematic analysis was used to identify emotions and situations that elicit such emotions. Results show both positive and negative emotions and highlight that the main sources of teachers' emotions are students' participation and collaboration, teachers' self-held beliefs, job context, and classroom environment. The study outlines that it is crucially important to understand the eliciting situations leading to such emotions in order to increase the implementation of the problem-solving approach in primary school education. Furthermore, to support teachers with the shift towards the problem-solving approach, this study also outlines that there should be some level of emotional support for teachers alongside the material support (such as providing school wide PLD and resources).