Students in senior pre-university education face difficulties in the application of mathematics in physics. This paper presents the results of a qualitative study on teachers’ core beliefs about improving the transfer of algebraic skills to physics. Teachers were interviewed about their beliefs regarding a transfer problem from mathematics to physics for which solution algebraic skills were needed. We obtained large amount of data which were reduced to sixteen core beliefs including constraints and affordances influencing students’ demonstration of coherent mathematics education (CME) and transfer of algebraic skills from mathematics into physics. These core beliefs were grouped into the five main categories ‘Collaboration’, ‘Curricula’, ‘Students’, ‘Teachers’ and ‘Textbooks’. We think that our approach to pattern coding is both elegant and generally applicable to reduce code trees including large amount of data. Four core beliefs were identified as naïve beliefs, which may impede transfer. We provided a powerful remedy against such unproductive beliefs: through professional development programs teachers with such beliefs should be made aware, reflect and reconcile their naïve beliefs with those required for transfer. These core beliefs contain data to extract teachers’ belief systems. Quantitative research could investigate to which extent this is the case and which beliefs these contain.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.