Advertisement

Weighing up the Influence of Context on Judgements of Mathematical Literacy

  • Tamsin MeaneyEmail author
Article

Abstract

Mathematical literacy, viewed as a set of ideas involving applications of mathematics to real-world contexts, has recently featured in curricular discussions about the aims for mathematics education. This article explores the effect that differences in the way that a mathematical task is contextualised can have on students’ mathematical arguments and, therefore, on their perceived levels of mathematical literacy. Seventy-two students’ responses to three similar measurement tasks are described according to Kaiser and Willander’s levels of mathematical literacy. The arguments used for assigning each level of mathematical literacy are then investigated for the presence of specific macro- and micro-linguistic features. The context of the task affects what students perceive to be most relevant approaches to use, which are reflected in the arguments they give; this, in turn, affects external judgements of their level of mathematical literacy.

Key words

argumentation context mathematical literacy mathematical thinking task demands text structure 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bills, C. (2002). Linguistic pointers in young children’s descriptions of mental calculations. In A. Cockburn & E. Nardi (Eds.), Proceedings of the 26th annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (vol. 2, pp. 97–104). Norwich, UK: Psychology of Mathematics Education.Google Scholar
  2. Bills, C. & Gray, E. (2001). The “particular”, “generic” and “general” in young children’s mental calculations. In M. van den Heuvel-Panhuizen (Ed.), Proceedings of the 25th annual conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (vol. 2, pp. 153–160). Utrecht, The Netherlands: Psychology of Mathematics Education.Google Scholar
  3. Bjuland, R., Cestari, M. L. & Borgersen, H. E. (2007). Pupils’ mathematical reasoning expressed through gesture and discourse: A case study from a sixth-grade lesson. Proc 5th congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education. Available from http://www.cyprusisland.com/cerme/group8.htm.
  4. Bybee, R. W. (1999). Toward an understanding of scientific literacy. In K. Comfort (Ed.), Advancing standards for science and mathematics education: Views from the field. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Available from http://ehrweb.aaas.org/her/forum/bybee.html.Google Scholar
  5. Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W. & Schliemann, A. D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3, 21–29.Google Scholar
  6. Dawe, L. (1983). Bilingualism and mathematical reasoning in English as a second language. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 14(4), 325–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Esty, W. (1992). Language concepts of mathematics. Focus on Learning Problems in Mathematics, 14(4), 31–54.Google Scholar
  8. Flockton, L. & Crooks, T. (1998). Mathematics: Assessment results, 1997. Dunedin, New Zealand: Educational Assessment Research Unit, University of Otago.Google Scholar
  9. Halliday, M. & Hasan, R. (1985). Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective. Geelong, Australia: Deakin University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jablonka, E. (2003). Mathematical literacy. In A. Bishop, M. A. Clements, C. Keitel, J. Kilpatrick & F. K. S. Leung (Eds.), Second international handbook of mathematics education (vol. 1, pp. 75–102). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  11. Kaiser, G. & Willander, T. (2005). Development of mathematical literacy: Results of an empirical study. Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, 24(2–3), 48–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kouba, V. L. & Champagne, A. B. (1998). Literacy in the national science and mathematics standards: Communication and reasoning (Report Series 3.14). New York: National Research Center on English Learning & Achievement, University at Albany-State University of New York.Google Scholar
  13. Kramarski, B. & Mizrachi, N. (2006). Online discussion and self-regulated learning: Effects of instructional methods on mathematical literacy. The Journal of Educational Research, 99(4), 218–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Krummheuer, G. (1995). The ethnography of argumentation. In P. Cobb & H. Bauersfeld (Eds.), The emergence of mathematical meaning: Interaction in classroom cultures (pp. 229–270). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  15. MacGregor, M. & Price, E. (1999). An exploration of aspects of language proficiency and algebra learning. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 30(4), 449–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mathematics Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. (n.d.). Mathematical literacy ... an idea to talk about. Edmonton, AB: Mathematics Council of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2006, from http://www.mathteachers.ab.ca/.Google Scholar
  17. Meaney, T. (2002). Does speaking improve students’ writing in mathematics? In Problematic futures: Educational research in an era of uncertainty, Proceedings of the Australian Association of Research in Education Conference. Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland. Available from http://www.aare.edu.au/02pap/mea02142.htm.
  18. Meaney, T. (2005). Better buy. In M. Goos, C. Kanes & R. Brown (Eds.), Mathematics education and society, Proceedings of the 4th International Mathematics Education and Society Conference (pp. 248–257). Gold Coast, Australia: Centre for Learning and Research, Griffith University.Google Scholar
  19. Meaney, T. & Irwin, K. C. (2005). Language used by students in mathematics for quantitative and numerical comparisons. Dunedin, New Zealand: Education Assessment Research Unit, University of Otago. Available from http://nemp.otago.ac.nz/otherstd/probe_studies/studies/44meaney/index.htm.Google Scholar
  20. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2001). Knowledge and skills for life: First report from the OECD programme for international student assessment. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.Google Scholar
  21. Piaget, J. (1990). The stages of the intellectual development of the child. In V. Lee (Ed.), Children’s learning in school (pp. 25–31). London: Hodder & Stoughton.Google Scholar
  22. Radford, L. (2003). Gestures, speech, and the sprouting of signs: A semiotic-cultural approach to students’ types of generalisations. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 5(1), 37–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Romberg, T. (2001). Mathematical literacy: What does it mean for school mathematics? Wisconsin School News, 10, 5–8 & 36.Google Scholar
  24. Roth, W.-M. (2001). Gestures: Their role in teaching and learning. Review of Educational Research, 73(3), 365–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Toulmin, S. (1969). The uses of argument. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Studies and Professional PracticeCollege of Education University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations