Encouraging Participation in Mathematical Practices : Messages in the Boost for Mathematics

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Institutionen för konst, kommunikation och lärande

Abstract: In this thesis, focused attention is given to the idea of task solvers as active participants in mathematical practices. The theoretical assumptions of the study, reported in this thesis, are inspired by socio-political concerns. The aim of the study is to investigate the underlying view of participation in mathematical practices, as understood in a nationwide teacher professional development programme, the Boost for Mathematics, in Sweden. To be more precise, the study is arranged to problematise ways of encouraging students as active participants. This aim is approached by means of the following research questions: (1) What messages do mathematical tasks in the Boost for Mathematics send about people as participants in mathematical practices? and (2) What is the role of multiple representations in these messages? An empirical study is reported. The data of the study, i.e., three collections of problems, are drawn from the Boost for Mathematics. Data processing is conducted by using a modified version of a pre-existing data processing framework, focusing on mathematical practices as socio-political practices. The empirical study uncovers an implicit view of task solvers in mathematical practices and especially a detachment between students, as potential task solvers, and the social contexts where mathematical ideas and concepts are embedded. This implicit view is challenged from the assumption that it is motivating for a student to conceive him/herself as someone who is ‘qualified’ to take part in mathematical practices.  

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