Teaching mathematics for relational understanding

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Teaching mathematics in Pakistan is done in a very traditional way and requires students to passively follow pre-ordained rules transmitted by the teacher. The consequence of this is that students are able to get good marks in examinations by memorizing certain rules. After the completion of each year's academic session, students memorize new things and often forget whatever they covered the previous year. In this study, I have attempted to introduce Relational Understanding' for the teaching of mathematics at the primary level in the government schools. The purpose of the study was to investigate what teachers can realistically do to develop their students relational understanding of mathematics. The study was based on the qualitative paradigm of research and designed as an action research, with data collection occurring in three stages. At the pre-intervention stage, semi-structured interviews, classroom observation and a test were conducted to examine the current situation of mathematics in the selected school. At the intervention stage, different ways of developing students' relational understanding were introduced. For example, group work was used so that every student could participate in discussions; I involved students in problem-solving activities to develop their thinking and reasoning power; I used concrete material for the clarification of abstract mathematics concepts. I strove to see how the new approach worked, what problems and challenges teachers and students face in the implementation of innovations and how the new approach affects teachers' teaching, and likewise, students' learning. In the post-intervention stage, students and teachers were interviewed to assess their perceptions about new pedagogy. One of the major findings of the study was that teaching of mathematics through the method of relational understanding can significantly improve the quality of teaching and learning in the mathematics classroom. Unfortunately, teachers' lack of awareness and inadequate knowledge hinders the implementation of relational understanding in the classroom. Recommendations are presented to remove the obstacles that are likely to cause some problems in the implementation of relational understanding.

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