Title

Teaching mathematics for relational understanding at lower secondary school level in rural Pakistan

Date of Award

8-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Department

Institute for Educational Development, Karachi

Abstract

Teaching of Mathematics in the rural context of Pakistan is mostly traditional; i.e. teachers often use the "chalk and talk" method to teach abstract concepts of Mathematics. Students copy the solutions to mathematical problems from the black-board without understanding the underlying meaning of the mathematical structure. Teachers and students perceive that Mathematics is the set of rules and procedures and mathematical problems can easily be solved by memorizing the mathematical algorithms. Although this method helps students solve mathematical problems quickly and get accurate results, they are usually not able to justify their solutions through reasoning and they cannot seek links among different mathematical concepts. Consequently, they develop a superficial understanding of mathematical concepts which remains in their memory for a short period of time. However, research has shown that if students are given opportunities to make connections between different concepts of Mathematics, they develop relational understanding which remains in the students' memory forever and helps them to learn new content of Mathematics meaningfully. The purpose of this study was to investigate how Mathematics in the rural context of Pakistan could be taught to the lower secondary level students for relational understanding. This study was conducted in one of the private schools in Chitral, Pakistan, using action research method. The participants were a Mathematics teacher and four students of Grade 8. Data about the impact of intervention has been collected in different stages of the study. At the pre-intervention stage, semi-structured interviews and classroom observations were conducted to explore the existing scenario of teaching and learning. During the intervention stage, multiple Mathematics teaching strategies and approaches were used. Students had been engaged in different mathematical activities which enabled the researcher to learn how the students developed relational understanding. At the post-intervention stage, semi-structured interviews had been conducted with participant students to observe the change in students' perception about the nature and teaching and learning of Mathematics. In addition, the reflective diaries of the researcher, field notes and students' works have been used as sources.

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