Mathematics & Mathematics Education

MME Staff and Graduate Student Colloquium 2018
Date: Friday 4 May 2018
Time: 4.30 pm – 8.30 pm
Venue: TR202 (Math Edu) & TR204 (Math)

Programme  |  Mathematics Education  |   Mathematics  |

Mathematics Education Abstracts of Presentations

Problem Solving at Primary Level: Students’ Strategies for Solving Challenging Geometry Problems

Goh Song Eng

The purpose of this study was to explore the various strategies used by Singapore primary students in solving challenging geometry problems. Specifically, the two research questions explored were:

  • What are the strategies used by Singapore primary four and five students to solve challenging geometry problems?
  • To what extent do the strategies lead to productive solutions?

An instrument with four challenging geometry problems covering four main topics of geometry at primary level: length, angle, perimeter and area, was designed and developed. A total of thirty-six primary four and five students took part in the study. All the answer scripts were studied in detail to understand how the students were trying to solve the problems and to identify all the strategies used by them. All the strategies identified were examined to determine if they were used in a useful manner leading to a productive solution. Findings from the data collected revealed a rich list of ten strategies used by students to solve challenging geometry problems: “draw auxiliary lines”, “draw diagrams”, “look for equal parts”, “look for known values”, “solve part of the problem”, “trace the changes”, “transfer unknowns”, “transform figures”, “use geometrical properties” and “use visual estimation”. Except for “use visual estimation”, students could use all the other nine strategies in a useful manner to solve the problems. There were about 40% of all strategies used in a useful manner leading to a productive solution.

A Framework to infuse Financial literacy into Mathematics Curriculum

Yeo Kai Kow Joseph

The prevailing public image of mathematics is an objective, abstract, and inhuman subject. Applications of mathematics to everyday life are often limited to basic number operations, percentages, volumes, and time measurements. In the primary levels, pupils as young as seven-years-old have already began to learn the basic elements of money and finance which are central to developing financial literacy. Since its inception, this has been achieved mainly through out-classroom lessons or enrichment activities, but the infusion of financial literacy (FL) into Mathematics instruction is rare. This presentation reviews the concept of financial literacy and the importance of financial literacy in mathematics education. The author has developed a matrix of mathematics-based financial literacy to help teachers conceptualise this infusion. The mathematics-based financial literacy framework also provides a more holistic conception of FL.

Promoting the Mastery of Problem-Solving Skills in Students via Animation

HAN Hui Xuan Dilys

This study presents the use of an animated video to impart mathematical problem-solving skills to lower secondary learners. An animated video on a specific challenging concept of Percentage was developed to scaffold the problem-solving process for learners. In the first segment of the animated video, a real-life scenario is used to contextualise the mathematics problem. Elements of humour were incorporated into the story. A jargon similar to the secondary school learners is used to allow learners to identify with the story. Worked examples are explained with the aid of animation, followed by a series of practice questions of suitable difficulty level and in a variety of contexts to aid the transfer of knowledge to novel mathematics situations. The video ends with a summary to help learners consolidate their learning. This paper also discusses the theoretical underpinnings of our approach. This study also seeks to contribute to the existing repertoire of pedagogical strategies by providing a concrete teaching idea developed from robust pedagogical principles for a specific lower secondary concept.

Translating Productive Failure in the Singapore A-level Statistics Curriculum

LEE Ngan Hoe

In the recommendations made to the revised General Cambridge Advanced Level Examinations (A-level) Mathematics curriculum (Ministry of Education (MOE): Curriculum Planning and Development Division (CPDD), 2012), an emphasis was placed on the use of constructivist pedagogy to deepen students’ understanding of concepts and appreciation of the disciplinarily of the subject, and the development of students’ critical and inventive thinking capacities that are relevant to the 21st century. Current practices in the Junior Colleges (JCs), with its lecture and tutorial system, remain largely didactic with direct instruction being the main pedagogical approach. This presentation examines the efforts undertaken by the research project DEV 03/14 MK to support MOE’s shift in pedagogical approach and updated learning experiences for the JC curriculum, through the translation of the use of Productive Failure (PF) - an empirically-tested and tractable learning design that embodies constructivist principles (e.g., Kapur, 2008, 2010, 2012) - across the A-level Statistical curriculum. Through MOE’s existing processes and structures, the research team embarked on a three-year project, working with the JCs to (i) develop, implement, and refine curricular units targeted six key statistical topics using PF principles; (ii) build teachers’ capacity in implementing PF; and (iii) impact student learning. Results revealed the viability of the PF learning design in the JC mathematics classrooms, the impact of teachers’ consolidation quality on students’ learning, and the importance of effective professional development, in-site and collegial support, and professional learning communities in changing practice. Implications of the findings will be discussed.