Informal Settings: Implications for Secondary Mathematics Teachers' Abilities to Recognize and Apply Mathematics
Popovic, Gorjana
The purpose of this study was to describe the ways in which situating learning experiences for mathematics teachers in informal sites, specifically in the science museum, assist them in recognizing mathematics in the real world and developing instructional math to help their students make connections between school mathematics and its real world applications. The study took place in the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), in Chicago, IL. Seven teachers (six female and one male) certified by their state to teach secondary mathematics (grades 6-12), pursuing a Masters in Mathematics Education degree at a private Midwest university, volunteered to participate in the study. Ethnographic methods (e.g., audiotapes of instruction, students’ written work) of data collection and analysis were used to capture teachers’ learning in the context of MSI exhibits (Lave, 1988). Lave’s methodology considers “person-acting (in setting) as an integral unit of analysis” (Lave, 1988, p. 180). Accordingly, the data collection and analysis were organized around two tasks: identifying mathematical concepts represented in the exhibits and creating lesson ideas to address identified mathematical concepts. The data collection included audiotapes of the group discussions around the exhibits, teachers’ Mathematics Concepts and Curriculum Connections (MC3) cards, and teachers’ reflections papers completed at the end of the study. The process of data analysis consisted of multiple interpretative passes through the data. An ethnographically grounded approach to discourse analysis (Gee and Green, 1998) was used as a framework for the analysis across data types. viii The results of the study showed that over the course of the study, teachers began to change their approach to identifying mathematics in the exhibits in two ways. In particular, the teachers realized that the obvious representations of mathematics, such as the appearance of numbers, geometric shapes and geometric figures in the exhibits were not vital to identifying mathematics. Additionally, teachers began to realize that learning about mathematical concepts could be done through exploration of scientific phenomena. The results also showed that once the teachers recognized mathematical concepts in an informal site, they were able to create lessons to address those concepts, as well as to identify where in the curriculum they could use the activities to enhance students’ learning. However, the support of the school administration and curriculum is necessary in order for teachers to incorporate informal education applications into their mathematics instruction.
Ph.D. in Mathematics Education, July 2011
Lederman, Judith
2011-08
2011-07
Dissertation
application/pdf
islandora:6872
http://hdl.handle.net/10560/2575
MSEd / Mathematics and Science Education
Illinois Institute of Technology
en
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