Investigating mathematics teachers’ knowledge about mathematics, mathematics teaching and learning in schools in Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Professional Development Centre, Karachi


This study aimed to explore mathematics teachers' knowledge about the nature of mathematics, mathematics teaching and learning and investigate the sources that shape their viewpoints. In response to emerging issues and questions teachers were engaged in a process of developing their thinking and teaching practice.

The study employed both quantitative and qualitative methods. Data pertaining to the teachers' conceptions of 174 secondary mathematics teachers were obtained using a survey designed by the researcher on the basis of similar surveys described in the literature. To take the study beyond the descriptive findings of the survey and to explore the sources that shape teachers' viewpoints, twenty teachers were then selected to participate in focus group discussion. Finally, two teachers participated in a small intervention study.

The study demonstrates that the teachers' knowledge about the nature of mathematics originates from their social, cultural and religious experiences. For example, the teachers had dual views about the nature of mathematics. On the one hand, teachers believed that mathematics knowledge is divine, created by Allah and therefore irrefutable and absolute. On the other hand, they maintained that mathematics knowledge is a human creation, invented to facilitate religious practices and to support human survival. With reference to their teaching practice, they considered the teacher to be the 'teacher as a fountain of knowledge' and hence students seldom get the opportunity to explore and construct mathematics knowledge and learn it for conceptual understanding.

The study revealed that institutional support, expectations, teachers' personal and professional commitment, their prior mathematics learning experiences and subject content knowledge play an important role in engaging teachers in developing their thinking and teaching practice. Teachers need to be engaged in a process of critically questioning their views and practices as they are deeply rooted in their social and cultural experiences. The contribution of this thesis is that institutional and cultural influences are local, and derived from the Pakistani context, so these have particular significance which should be taken into account in teacher development.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library