Repertoires of aspiration, narratives of identity, and cultural models of mathematics in practice

In this chapter we will draw on work from our project, Opening doors to mathematically-demanding programmes in Higher Education and in particular on four of the project’s recent papers (Black, Davis, Hernandez-Martinez, Pampaka, Wake, & Williams, under review; Hernandez-Martinez, Black, Williams, Davis, Pampaka, & Wake, 2008; Williams, 2007; Williams, Black, Hernandez-Martinez, Davis, Hutcheson, Nicholson, & Wake, 2007) to demonstrate three distinct methodological frameworks, based on ‘discursive psychology’, a narrative approach to identity, and cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) respectively. The first two of these papers analysed interview data to gain insight into how different students formulate different aspirations and identities in regard to mathematics. The latter two increasingly draw on a broader set of case study data that includes observations of classrooms and interviews of observed students and their teachers, and indeed managers and principals in the colleges where the learners were studying. (Continues...).