A cross-cultural study on teachers’ use of print and digital resources ...

Speaker: Hendrik van Steenbrugge, Mälardalen University, Sweden


This talk relates to a cross-cultural study on elementary teachers’ use of print and digital resources to design and enact mathematics instruction in Sweden, Finland, the USA, and Flanders (Belgium). We are interested in how teachers access and have access to various resources, how they use them, the factors that influence their use, and variation within and across cultural context. Toward that end, we have interviewed ten teachers per context and, as a team, we are currently going through a process of making sense of the interviews applying insider and outsider lenses.

I will focus on developing the seven team members’ prerequisite understanding, a term used by Andrews (2007) to relate to the alignment of insider and outsider lenses to facilitate a cross-cultural team’s growing intersubjectivity. Our expanding process of developing prerequisite understanding required us to step back and develop processes and instruments including addressing language issues, creating case descriptions of individual participants as an early introduction to teachers within contexts, writing  descriptions of contexts and curriculum programs, and developing common understandings of teacher interviews through lengthy conversations between insider-outsider pairs. Through these steps, we aim to build a foundation for analysing resource use with the perspective of insiders taking on outsider views and vice versa.

If time permits, I will also talk about what we have learned so far, going through the process of building the team’s prerequisite understanding, about the curriculum systems for elementary mathematics education in the four regions. All of these regions have recently gone through, or are in the midst of, mathematics reform. It has been argued and shown that teaching and teachers’ professional environment consist of interacting elements (e.g., Miyakawa & Winsløw, 2017; Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). This led Stigler and Hiebert to describe teaching as a system. In a similar way, we use the term curriculum system to describe how elements and processes related to curriculum use interact. Our study of the curriculum systems in the four mentioned regions suggests that a curriculum reform, which is both coherent across the region and supported by its teachers, is a challenging balance.


Andrews, P. (2007). Negotiating meaning in cross‐national studies of mathematics teaching: Kissing frogs to find princes. Comparative Education, 43(4), 489-509.

Miyakawa, T., & Winsløw, C. (2017). Paradidactic infrastructure for sharing and documenting mathematics teacher knowledge: a case study of “practice research” in Japan. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-017-9394-y. doi:10.1007/s10857-017-9394-y

Stigler, J., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world’s teachers for improving education in the classroom. New York: The free press.

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