Self-directed and peer-assisted thinking in a secondary mathematics classroom

Year: 1997

Author: Goos, Merrilyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The last decade has seen the emergence of an international movement calling for reform in the teaching and learning of mathematics. In both the United States and Australia, for example, new curriculum and policy documents place increased emphasis on problem solving, communication and mathematical reasoning, and endorse greater use of small group work and peer interaction as a means of encouraging students to become self-directed learners. Such significant curriculum reforms require a sound research base if they are to be effectively implemented. However, our theoretical understanding of problem solving processes, and how students' self-monitoring and self-regulatory abilities are cultivated by these new forms of classroom interaction, is far from complete. This paper reports on a study of a Year 11 mathematics classroom which exemplified the learning goals and instructional practices articulated by the mathematics education reform movement. A major aim of the study was to examine students' metacognitive knowledge and strategies in both individual and collaborative settings. In this paper, data from questionnaires, interviews, and videotaped lessons are used to analyse connections between self-directed and peer-assisted metacognitive activity, and suggest implications for the social organisation of mathematics classrooms.