ERG SES C 07, Mathematics and Education
Over decades, some studies in the literature focus on the importance of the real-life connection in mathematics (Moschkovich, 2002; van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, 2003). Moschkovich (2002) suggests that real life problems should be the starting points for students to understand how to use mathematics in daily life. At this point, it is important to choose problems and activities which require discovery, modelling, proof, and technology use as well as which include experiences students enjoy and have with confidence (Romberg & Kaput, 1999).
Studies related to making connections suggest that real life contexts motivate students and increase their interest in mathematics (Stylianides & Stylianides, 2008), and they also strengthen the relation between school mathematics and real life mathematics (Singletary, 2012). Through connecting problems/activities/projects to real life, students may learn mathematics more easily (Carpenter & Lehrer, 1999) and develop their mathematical thinking skills (Beswick, 2011).
At this point, it should be noted that it is critical how teachers use and present real life contexts in their classrooms, since merely using them in classes is not enough for student learning. Mathematical tasks should be challenging, engaging, and full of mathematics (Trafton, Reys, & Wasman, 2001). Teachers should be able to create environments in which students find and/or create real life problems, make generalizations through real life examples, and discuss mathematics through those (Moschkovich, 2002).
While there are several different definitions of the term “real life” in different studies (see Le Roux, 2008; Stylianides & Stylianides, 2008; van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, 2003), in the present study, Lee’s (2012) definition was used. Accordingly, real life was defined as experiences that include problems, mathematical discussions, representations, visual images, and modelling held in a wide context (especially beyond classroom context) such as science, environment, sport, art, architecture, engineering, banking, and shopping.
When it is taken into account that unless prospective teachers understand the importance of building connection between mathematics and real life, when they become teachers, they will not be able to help their students make connections, reason mathematically, and solve problems (Eli, Mohr-Schroeder,& Lee, 2011). Thus, in the present study, it was aimed to understand how and why prospective teachers build real life connections, and how they reason about the use of connections for student learning. In this regard, what they understood from real life connections, in what contexts they built the connections, what the purpose was while building connections, and in which topics they built the connections were examined.
The study explored the following research questions:
- How prospective teachers build real life connections?
- In what contexts they build the connections?
- For what purposes they build the connections?
- In which mathematical topics they find it possible to build connections?
Beswick, K. (2011). Putting context in context: An examination of the evidence for the benefits of 'contextualised' tasks. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9(2), 367-390 Carpenter, T. P., & Lehrer, R. (1999). Teaching and learning mathematics with understanding. In E. Fennema & T. A. Romberg (Eds.), Mathematics classrooms that promote understanding (pp. 19–32). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Eli, J. A., Mohr-Schroeder, M. J., & Lee, C. W. (2011). Exploring mathematical connections of prospective middle-grades teachers through card-sorting tasks. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 23, 297-319 Gainsburg, J. (2008). Real-world connections in secondary mathematics teaching. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 11(3), 199-219. Le Roux, K. (2008). A critical discourse analysis of a real-world problem in mathematics: Looking for signs of change. Language and Education, 22(5), 307-326. Lee, J. (2012). Prospective elementary teachers’ perceptions of real-life connections reflected in posing and evaluating story problems. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 15(6), 429-452. Moschkovich, J. (2002). An introduction to examining everyday and academic mathematical practices. In Brenner, M. and Moschkovich, J. (Eds), Everyday and academic mathematics in the classroom (pp. 1-11). JRME Monograph Number 11, Reston, VA, NCTM. Stylianides, A. J., & Stylianides, G. J. (2008). Studying the implementation of tasks in classroom settings: High-level mathematics tasks embedded in “real-life” contexts. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 859-875. Trafton, P. R., Reys, B. J., & Wasman, D.G. (2001). Standards-based mathematics curriculum materials: A phrase in search of a definition. The Phi Delta Kappan, 83(3), 259-264. Van Den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. (2003). The didactical use of models in realistic mathematics education: An example from a longitudinal trajectory on percentage. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 54(1), 9-35. Yildirim, A., & Simsek, H. (2006). Sosyal bilimlerde nitel arastirma yöntemleri. Seckin Yayincilik.
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