Improving Mathematical Learning Through Contextualisation

Year: 2007

Author: Hurst, Chris

Type of paper: Refereed paper

A significant issue for primary teachers is finding ways to encourage students to recognise mathematical ideas embedded in a broad range of contexts, and to connect and apply their mathematical knowledge to such contexts. Indeed, it has been noted that students frequently engage in a haphazard and random application of their mathematical knowledge outside the mathematics classroom. This paper is based on a qualitative multiple case study involving 8 Year Six and Seven students. The study investigated the capacity of those students to recognise, apply, and question the use of mathematical ideas embedded in a range of contexts. It also considered the extent to which students’ capacity to connect mathematical knowledge to other contexts could motivate them to learn mathematics. In particular it investigated the effect of the Mathematical Search strategy in achieving those ends. It found that students’ thinking about mathematics and their attitudes towards it could be enhanced by targeting mathematical connections through the use of the Mathematical Search and associated teaching and learning strategies.