Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 255–275 | Cite as

Boundary crossing and brokering between disciplines in pre-service mathematics teacher education

  • Merrilyn GoosEmail author
  • Anne Bennison
Original Article


In many countries, pre-service teacher education programs are structured so that mathematics content is taught in the university’s mathematics department and mathematics pedagogy in the education department. Such program structures make it difficult to authentically interweave content with pedagogy in ways that acknowledge the roles of both mathematicians and mathematics educators in preparing future teachers. This article reports on a project that deliberately fostered collaboration between mathematicians and mathematics educators in six Australian universities in order to investigate the potential for learning at the boundaries between the two disciplinary communities. Data sources included two rounds of interviews with mathematicians and mathematics educators and annual reports prepared by each participating university over the three years of the project. The study identified interdisciplinary boundary practices that led to integration of content and pedagogy through new courses co-developed and co-taught by mathematicians and mathematics educators, and new approaches to building communities of pre-service teachers. It also developed an evidence-based classification of conditions that enable or hinder sustained collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, together with an empirical grounding for Akkerman and Bakker’s conceptualisation of transformation as a mechanism for learning at the boundary between communities. The study additionally highlighted the ambiguous nature of boundaries and implications for brokers who work there to connect disciplinary paradigms.


Mathematics teacher education Boundary crossing Boundary practices Brokering Community of practice Interdisciplinary collaboration 



This article draws on papers presented at conferences of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (Bennison and Goos 2016; Goos 2015) and the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (Goos and Bennison 2017).

Funding information

This project was funded by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching (grant #MS13-3174). Following the cessation of the OLT in June 2016, the Australian Government Department of Education and Training continued to support the Enhancing the Training of Mathematics and Science Teachers program and projects. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching or Department of Education and Training.


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Copyright information

© Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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