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The Three Muscateers: An exploration of how the convergence of three elements: critical pedagogy, living theory and participatory action research spark students’ epistemological curiosity to support their primary-secondary mathematics transitions in Muscat, Oman.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date24/02/2022
Number of pages199
Award date24/02/2022
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The convergence of three elements rooted in critical theory: critical pedagogy, living theory and participatory action research (PAR) is explored in the context of a British curriculum school in Muscat, Oman. This exploration centres on the social justice impact on students’ primary-secondary mathematics transitions.

This transition is established as being challenging for many students and negatively impacts on their future lives. The literature review sets out a theoretical framework of critical pedagogy through which existing transition research and practise are examined. This evidences the significant social injustice in the pedagogy at the heart of existing transitions. The lens of critical pedagogy grounded in ontological values of critical hope, love and respect, highlights that an alternative approach is needed which empowers students to develop their epistemological curiosity in their mathematics transitions.

The methodology of living theory is explored in depth to establish a theoretical foundation for this participatory action research study. Year 6 students (aged 10-11 years) actively engaged in research to interrogate their upcoming mathematics transitions from primary to secondary school and were empowered to seek the support they needed. Two iterations of PAR were conducted over two years with a total of 192 students.

The thesis pauses for a brief reverie to discuss, with critical hope, the possibilities this participatory action research has to create wider social change. The theories of critical pedagogy and living theory are then combined to analyse the findings. The discussion focuses on the impact this convergence of critical pedagogy, living theory methodology and PAR has on the student participants. The social justice potential of intertwining these three elements in Muscat inspires the term The Three Muscateers in honour of the social justice potential observed in this study.

The thesis contributes to the field of transition literature, answering a call for further transition research which explores methodologies to elevate students’ voices. The PAR has resulted in pedagogical change to transition policy and is an example for teachers and researchers seeking to explore how students can create more epistemologically empowered and successful primary-secondary mathematics transitions through PAR framed by critical pedagogy and living theory.