Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 3–22 | Cite as

The role of attention in expert classroom practice

  • Janet Ainley
  • Michael Luntley


In this paper we outline a new theoretical model of expert practice that identifies the importance of attentional skills. We report on a small-scale pilot study of the classroom practice of experienced teachers of mathematics based on this model, through which a method of articulating aspects of classroom practice has been developed. This study took place in England, where current policy in teacher education places considerable emphasis on lesson planning. Our study raises issues about the relationships between the different kinds of knowledge that we see as constituting expert practice.


Teacher knowledge Attention Expert practice 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Board in funding the project ‹Attention and the knowledge bases of expert practice’ on which this paper is based. A report of this project can be found at


  1. Askew, M. (2004). Objectives driven lessons in primary schools; cart before the horse? In O. McNamara (Ed.), Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics, (Vol. 24(1), pp. 61–68). London: BSRLMGoogle Scholar
  2. Ball, D. (1991). Shea Numbers (a video package). East Lancing MI: Math Project, Michigan State University.Google Scholar
  3. Brousseau, G. (1997). Theory of didactical situations in mathematics. Dortrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, S., & McIntyre, D. (1993). Making sense of teaching. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Calderhead, J. (1984). Teachers’ classroom decision making. London: Holt.Google Scholar
  6. DfEE (1999). National numeracy strategy. London: DfEE Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Edwards, A., & Protheroe, L. (2003) Learning to see in classrooms: What are student teachers learning about teaching and learning while learning to teach in schools? British Educational Research Journal, 29(2), 227–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Even, R., & Tirosh, D. (1995) Subject matter knowledge and knowledge about students as sources of teacher presentation of the subject matter. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 29, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Even, R., & Tirosh, D. (2002). Teacher knowledge and understanding of students’ mathematical learning. In L. English (Ed.), Handbook of international research in mathematics education (pp.␣219–240). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  10. Jaworski, B. (1988). 'Is’ versus 'seeing as’: constructivism and the mathematics classroom. In D.␣Pimm (Ed.), Mathematics teachers and children. London: Hodder and Stoughton.Google Scholar
  11. Jaworski, B. (1994). Investigating mathematics teaching: a constructivist enquiry. London: Falmer Press.Google Scholar
  12. Lampert, M. (1990) When the problem is not the question and the solution is not the answer: Mathematical knowing and teaching. American Educational Research Journal, 27, 29–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Leinhardt, G., & Greeno, J. G. (1986). The cognitive skill of teaching. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(2), 75–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Luntley, M. (2002) Knowing how to manage: expertise and embedded knowledge. Reason in Practice, 2(3), 3–14.Google Scholar
  16. Luntley, M. (2003) Ethics in the face of uncertainty—judgement not rules. Business Ethics: A European Review, 12, 325–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Luntley, M. (2004). Growing awareness. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 38(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Luntley, M. (2005). The character of learning. Educational Philosophy & Theory, 37(5), 689–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Margolinas, C., Coulange, L., & Bessot, A. (2005). What can teachers learn in the classroom? Educational Studies in Mathematics, 59, 205–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mason, J. (1998). Enabling teachers to be real teachers: necessary levels of awareness and structure of attention. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 1(3), 241–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mason, J. (2002). Researching your own practice: The discipline of noticing. London: RoutledgeFalmer.Google Scholar
  22. Mason, J., & Spence, M. (1999). Beyond mere knowledge of mathematics: The importance of knowing-to act in the moment. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 38, 135–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Peterson, P. L., & Clark, C. M. (1978). Teachers’ reports of their cognitive processes during teaching. American Educational Research Journal, 15, 555–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schoenfeld, A. (1998). Toward a theory of teaching-in-context. Issues in Education, 4(1), 1–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shulman, L. S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching: Foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 579(1), 1–22.Google Scholar
  26. Thompson, A. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and conceptions: A synthesis of the research. In D. A. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Teacher Training Agency (TTA) (2003). Qualifying to teach. London: TTA Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  2. 2.University of WarwickCoventryUK

Personalised recommendations