“My favourite subject is maths. For some reason no-one really agrees with me”: student perspectives of mathematics teaching and learning in the upper primary classroom

Abstract

The levels of engagement in mathematics experienced by students during the middle years of schooling (Years 5 to 8 in New South Wales) has been of concern in Australia for some years. Lowered engagement in school has been attributed to factors such as inappropriate teaching strategies, curricula that is unchallenging and irrelevant, and cultural and technological conditions that continue to evolve (Sullivan et al. Australian Journal of Education 53(2):176-191, 2009). There is currently a gap in this field of research in terms of a lack of longitudinal studies conducted in an Australian context that feature students’ voices and their perceptions of mathematics teaching and learning during the middle years. As part of a qualitative longitudinal case study spanning 3 school years, 20 students in their final year of primary school (aged between 11 and 12 years) were asked to provide their views on mathematics teaching and learning. The aim of the study was to explore the students’ perspectives of mathematics teaching and learning to discover pedagogies that engage the students. During focus group discussions and individual interviews the students discussed qualities of a “good” mathematics teacher and aspects of “good” lessons. These were found to resonate well with current Australian quality teaching frameworks. The findings of this study indicate that students in the middle years are critically aware of pedagogies that lead to engagement in mathematics, and existing standards and frameworks should be used as a starting point for quality teaching of mathematics.

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Correspondence to Catherine Attard.

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Attard, C. “My favourite subject is maths. For some reason no-one really agrees with me”: student perspectives of mathematics teaching and learning in the upper primary classroom. Math Ed Res J 23, 363 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13394-011-0020-5

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Keywords

  • Engagement
  • Middle years
  • Interactions
  • Relationship
  • Pedagogy