Original Research

Conversations reflecting boundary-objects-related details of a teacher’s local practices with spreadsheet algebra programs on variables

M. Faaiz Gierdien, Wajeeh Daher, Awni M. Abu-Saman
Pythagoras | Vol 44, No 1 | a756 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v44i1.756 | © 2023 M. Faaiz Gierdien, Wajeeh Daher, Awni M. Abu-Saman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 May 2023 | Published: 30 November 2023

About the author(s)

M. Faaiz Gierdien, Department of Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Wajeeh Daher, Department of Mathematics Education, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Al-Qasemi Academic College, Baqa, Haifa Faculty of Educational Sciences, An Najah National University, Nablus, Palestinian Territory, Israel
Awni M. Abu-Saman, Department of Mathematics, Al-Azhar University, Gaza, Palestine, Israel


The ways teachers converse about their work in relation to information and communications technologies (ICTs) are worth studying. We analyse how a teacher converses about her local practices in relation to two spreadsheet algebra programs (SAPs) on variables. During the conversations we noticed that the teacher keeps different policy documents – boundary objects – firmly in view, in relation to the design of the two other boundary objects, namely the two SAPs. The policy documents provide details on the operative curricula which entail the intended, implemented and examined curricula. Of these curricula, the teacher regarded the examined curriculum and associated examinations as most important. Also, she conversed about how she intends to align the design features of the two SAPs with particular policy documents, especially in the context of the South African high-stakes National Senior Certificate examinations and the attendant examination pressure. Our results confirm current professional development (PD) literature suggestions that emphasise fostering coherence, for example between policy boundary objects details and what university-based PD providers do when they interact with school teachers.

Contribution: The results provide guidelines for university-based PD providers to integrate SAPs or other ICTs related to algebra and variables by keeping teachers’ local practices in view. These providers should note that different policy-related boundary objects shape the ways teachers understand and converse about their local practices, namely their work at the classroom level.


boundary objects; professional development; local practices; information and communications technologies (ICTs); spreadsheet algebra programs; algebra; variables; nature of the roots.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 2: Zero hunger


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