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Thesis defences

PhD Oral Exam - Sarah Mathieu-Soucy, Individualized Program

Becoming a teacher: a narrative inquiry into the experiences of novice teachers of mathematics in cegep

Date & time

Wednesday, December 4, 2019
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.


This event is free


School of Graduate Studies


J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. Room LB 649

Wheelchair accessible


When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.

Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.


This dissertation presents a narrative inquiry into the experiences of novice teachers (under five years of experience) of mathematics in cegep institutions, the first step of postsecondary education in Quebec, Canada. Using Dewey’s theory of learning alongside narrative inquiry’s conceptualization of life as lived narratively, our aim is to contribute to the understanding of the process of becoming a cegep mathematics teacher, the research puzzle of this study. For this purpose, I met five novice mathematics cegep teachers, individually except for one meeting with three of them, each seven times, to talk about mathematics, teaching, and learning and created field texts associated with these meetings. As we realized these novice teachers spoke of who they are and are becoming in terms of their past experiences as students, as teachers, and outside of school, we decided to attend to the ways novice teachers’ stories, stories they live and tell as teachers, are shaped (justified, modified, or affirmed) by these past experiences. Based on the field texts and the notes I took during our meetings, I wrote a booklet of research texts that narrates justifications, modifications, and affirmations of stories. We then analyzed these research texts attending to the ways novice teachers’ stories were shaped according to three emerging strands of analysis: implicit training experiences, explicit training experiences, and experiences in relation to university mathematics. Then, we explore what this analysis tells us about our research puzzle. We end by exploring resonant threads, particular plotlines, and patterns about the process of becoming a teacher of mathematics in cegep, which emerged from the analysis conducted, the booklet of stories and the field texts. We address: bumping stories and tensions that can prevent novice teachers from living stories, novice teachers’ unique journey to teaching, novice teachers’ inclination to strive towards quality teaching, the connection between the process of becoming a teacher and being a university student in mathematics, and a characterization of the valid behaviours novice cegep teachers engaged in as they entered the profession.

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