'What if I get it wrong?' A psycho-social enquiry into SENCOs' experiences of learning, doing and teaching maths

Fleming, Hannah (2016) 'What if I get it wrong?' A psycho-social enquiry into SENCOs' experiences of learning, doing and teaching maths. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of Essex. Full text available

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This research applies a psycho-social approach to explore how SENCOs think about children with learning difficulties in mathematics, their feelings when performing mathematics tasks, and their own experiences of mathematics learning. Four SENCOs from different schools were interviewed twice. These participants were interviewed using a Free Association Narrative Interviewing (FANI) method, and were asked to complete a mathematics task. The mathematics task provided an experiential element through which participants communicated more unconscious or ‘unpolished’ feelings. This is a qualitative, exploratory piece of research. It comes from a psycho-social ontology, insofar as the participants are theorised in terms of psychoanalytic and societal concepts, and a psycho-social epistemology, in that knowledge of participants is gained through an interaction between a defended subject and researcher. As the researcher I understand people as psychologically defended against anxiety (Klein, 1952). Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis, while keeping in mind the ‘whole’ person. Thought was given to the researcher-participant relationship, to the narrative and to the ‘unspoken’ parts of the narrative which were interpreted using psychoanalytic frameworks. A reflective research diary and psycho-social supervision were used in order to enhance the understanding of the subjective researcher experience of dynamics underlying the interview process. A number of themes emerged from the data: Participants tended to attribute the causes of the children’s learning difficulties to within child difficulties or to teaching or parenting; participants’ negative feelings around mathematics were associated with rivalry, disempowerment and vulnerability, and shame at feeling unable to do something; the participants’ experiences of learning mathematics as a child appeared to have a profound effect on participants and how they approached mathematics tasks, and uncontaining school experiences of mathematics left a lasting impression. Limitations of the research and implications for teachers, SENCOs and EPs are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology awarded by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in association with the University of Essex. Presentation from DECP TEP Conference 2017: Wednesday 11th January 2017 at The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child, Community and Educational Psychology
Subjects: Learning & Education > Educational Psychology
Learning & Education > Special Needs Education
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/1420

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