Understanding immigrant students' transitions as mathematical learners from a dialogical self perspective

Crafter, Sarah; de Abreu, Guida; Prat, Montserrat and Gorgorio, Núria (2013). Understanding immigrant students' transitions as mathematical learners from a dialogical self perspective. In: 15th EARLI and JURE Conference on Responsible Teaching and Sustainable Learning, 26-31 Aug 2013, Munich, Germany.


Using dialogical self 'I' positions as a conceptual and methodological tool, in this paper we examine the ruptures an immigrant student experienced in the transition across school mathematical practices from one country to another. We use a case study approach to explore changes in mathematics identity positions, when an established identity position - in this case the "I as a good mathematics student" - is under threat. We first examine the student descriptions of I-positions that reflected a rupture to the self. Then we examine the I-positions involved in coming to grips with a new and unfamiliar sense of self (e.g. being no longer good at mathematics) that tries to provide the self with explanations for the change. This involves three specific dialogical self strategies: withdrawing of self, suspending of the self, and a "letting go" of the old mathematical self. This process also meant the student had to engage with a distinct change to their imagined future, as the imagined "I-position" as studying a scientific subject at University became uncertain. We conclude that the transition process involved dialogical self work to restore some continuity in the self. Of crucial importance for school practice, the reflections of the student show that in immigrant transitions "time" impacts on the dialogical self work. As he stresses that in the early stages of the transition the key others (teachers and colleagues) are unknown to the self, and that significant others (parents and teachers) can play a role on the impact of time by becoming aware of its impact.

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