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Iben Maj ChristiansenProfessor


Min forskning fokuserar på matematiklärares kunskap, lärande och praxis. Jag kom till Stockholms universitet i januari 2015 efter att ha arbetat och bott i Sydafrika i 15 år.

För närvarande arbetar jag med en del underbara kollegor från MND, UMU och HDa i ett projekt om kartläggning av matematiklärares lärande från lärarutbildning till arbete i skolan. Projektet undersökar vilka förändringar som sker i lärares praxis över tid; vad som påverkar deras lärandeprocess; och hur kunskap från deras lärarutbildning blir rekontextualiserad. Projektet har ett mindre systerprojekt i Sydafrika, ledat av Kicki Skog och Sarah Bansilal.

Tidigare var jag med i den första matematikklassrumstudien i Rwanda; en replikering av en studie som tidigare genomförts i Sydafrika. Resultaten av studierna visade på betydande skillnader i lärarkunskap och elevprestationer mellan de två länderna. I synnerhet tycktes de rwandiska eleverna bättre behärska grundläggande aritmetik. Dessutom visade sig undervisningen i Sydafrika ha begränsat konceptuellt fokus och elevengagemang, medan den rwandiska undervisningen bjöd på något bättre möjligheter för elevernas lärande.

Ett samarbetsprojekt med Dr Carol Bertram och Dr Tabitha Mukeredzi studerar förskollärares lärande i ett fortbildningsprogram för förskollärare vid University of KwaZulu-Natal i Sydafrika. Projektet spänner över lärande av ämnes och pedagogiskt kunnande relaterat till modersmålsundervisning (Zulu), första andraspråksundervisning (engelska) och grundläggande aritmetik (numeracy).



I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Images of the desired teacher in practicum observation protocols

    2019. Iben Maj Christiansen, Lisa Österling, Kicki Skog. Research Papers in Education


    ‘Good teaching’ remains disputed, but few studies have empirically studied variations in views of good teaching as reflected in teacher education. This study performed a content analysis of criteria for student teacher lesson observations stated in protocols from universities in six countries. Similarities across the protocols were the absence of images of the charismatic and the technical-professional teacher, and the dearth of teleological aspects. The degree to which protocols reflected a knowledge base, had clear implementation requirements, valued reasoned judgement, and valued transformation of content varied. On the basis of this range of images of the desired teacher, we suggest four categories of teacher images: the knowledgeable teacher, the knowledge-transforming teacher, the efficient teacher, and the constantly improving teacher, and further discuss the possibility of an inspired teacher.

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  • Early schooling teachers’ learning from a formal teacher development programme in South Africa

    2019. Iben Christiansen, Carol Bertram.


    Continuing professional development for teachers is seen as an important factor in improving South African education. However, few studies have interrogated the extent to which teachers develop their professional knowledge and competencies by attending formal professional development programmes offered by universities. The purpose of the paper is to compare the results of two tests, which we designed to measure the professional learning of the Foundation Phase (Gr R – Gr 3) teachers who enrolled on an Advanced Certificate for Teaching (ACT) programme, offered by the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. We designed a pen-and-paper test which the participants completed in February 2014 when they enrolled on the ACT programme and then again in October 2015, when they had completed the two-year part-time programme. A comparison of the test results indicate that teachers may have developed slightly more confidence in some areas, that some shifted their beliefs about teaching and learning yet not always in the desired direction, and that the improvement in conceptual knowledge appeared rather limited. We discuss a range of possible explanations for this.

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  • The CALL of Zulu

    2019. Iben Maj Christiansen, Rosanne Els. Computer Assisted Language Learning


    Few people who did not grow up speaking Zulu have learned the language later. There are limited resources for second language Zulu learning, whether textbooks, readers, or computerised resources. We set out to develop software for this purpose, to support learners’ independent learning. Drawing on research on language learning, we used a number of principles that then informed the design of the programmes. In this paper, we reflect on the applicability of the principles and the difficulties in structuring an application for an agglutinative language.

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  • Dissonance and Continuity in the Mathematical Education and Training Experiences of Pre-service Secondary Mathematics Teachers

    2018. Viren Ramdhany, Hamsa Venkat, Iben Maj Christiansen. African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 22 (2), 186-195


    The education and professional development of pre-service mathematics teachers occur across different contexts. Key contexts of mathematics learning and learning to teach are school, university undergraduate mathematics and mathematics teaching-related learning in teacher education courses. International literature suggests that each of these contexts legitimises different views of mathematics teaching and learning. For pre-service teachers traversing these contexts, moves between sites can be experienced in more continuous or more dissonant ways. The disjunctures associated with dissonant experiences lead to openings for value judgments related to the distinctions that are drawn, opening possibilities for a wider range of pedagogic decisions. In this paper, we explore, through interviews with four pre-service teachers in one post-graduate certificate of education (PGCE) course, perceptions of continuity and dissonance across sites related to mathematics and mathematics education, and teaching and learning. Our findings point largely to experiences of continuity between the high school and undergraduate contexts, with the PGCE course recognised as different from these contexts.

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  • Investigating teacher learning from a university programme for Foundation Phase teachers

    2018. Tabitha G. Mukeredzi, Carol Bertram, Iben Christiansen. South African Journal of Childhood Education 8 (1)


    Background: There is a growing focus in South Africa on teachers developing appropriate knowledge, skills and dispositions for teaching to support young learners’ development and learning. One such teacher development programme is the Advanced Certificate in Teaching for Foundation Phase teachers, offered by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). This research sought to establish the learning of this sample of teachers as this was the first time the programme was offered at this level in South Africa and in UKZN.

    Aim: The study investigated the knowledge the teachers said they gained, how they acquired it and ways in which they said learning improved their classroom practices.

    Methods: This was a qualitative study. Data were generated from 26 participants through two rounds of focus group interviews in June 2013 and in November 2014. Data were analysed thematically using concepts of accommodation or assimilation, and practical or conceptual knowledge.

    Results: Respondents’ statements indicated development of a range of practical knowledge about planning and teaching strategies, and conceptual knowledge like child development, creative play, circle of courage and others. Teachers also reported ways in which their classroom practices had improved. However, both institution- and student-related learning barriers emerged during the first semester around programme demands and poor curriculum delivery.

    Conclusion: Respondents reported more about acquiring practical than conceptual knowledge and having improved practices in many ways. Participants also reported gaining conceptual knowledge around child development, circle of courage, and learning barriers. They acquired these kinds of knowledge through both assimilation and accommodation.

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  • Problematising current forms of legitimized participation in the examination papers for Mathematical Literacy

    2015. Marc North, Iben M. Christiansen. Pythagoras (AMESA) 36 (1), 31-41


    In this article we argue that in South Africa the current format of legitimised participation and practice in the examination papers for Mathematical Literacy restricts successful apprenticeship in the discipline of scientific mathematics and limits empowered preparation for real-world functioning. The currency of the subject, then, is brought into question. We further argue that the positioning of the subject as a compulsory alternative to Mathematics and the differential distribution of these two subjects to differing groups of learners facilitates the (re)production and sustainment of educational disadvantage. We draw on Dowling’s theoretical constructs of differing domains of mathematical practice and positions and focus analysis on a collection of nationally set exemplar Grade 12 examination papers to identify legitimised forms of participation in the subject. We conclude by arguing for a reconceptualised structure of knowledge and participation in Mathematical Literacy and make preliminary recommendations in this regard.

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