From textual problems to mathematical relationships: case studies of secondary school students and the discourses at play in interpreting word problems

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Show simple item record Tobias, Bruce 2011-05-30T08:06:06Z 2011-05-30T08:06:06Z 2011-05-30
dc.description.abstract This study uses a discourse analysis from the perspectives of James Paul Gee (2005; 1999) in order to establish a socio-situated view of why grade 10 students often experience difficulties in representing mathematical word problems into appropriate equations and expressions that enable a solution to the problems. A discursive methodology was used to throw light on the difficulties that students experience that was different from the perspectives adopted previously, viz. from a view of the structure of the problems, from a pedagogic point of view and a cognitive understanding. An initial case study in one school in which four students were selected revealed that a master model existed that students were enacting when doing and talking about their experiences with word problems, viz. that word problems are obfuscatory. This master model rendered the students relatively mathematically helpless within a Discourse of school mathematics word problems. In order to more fully understand these findings an extended study was set up in which the methodology and analytic framework were refined. This extended study saw four students at each of three different sites selected to participate. The findings of this extended study were that the students enacting a situated Discourse model were more enabled within the Discourse of school mathematics word problems, whilst those enacting a deficit Discourse model were either peripheral or outside of that Discourse. This study contributes in that the constructs for the phenomena and the analytic tools within the context of school mathematics needed to be pioneered, adapted and refined over a period of time to address aspects particular to school mathematics. This resulted in a view from a socio-situated perspective which saw a shift in seeing what students do with the problem to what students do in the social setting associated with the problem. From this shift in focus came a new understanding of student difficulties with word problems that gave rise to a sub-Discourse within the Discourse surrounding school mathematics word problems, and students finding themselves in this sub-Discourse becoming marginalised through enacting a deficit Discourse model because they are unable to ascribe to the success model, or situated Discourse model. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Discourse analysis, Secondary school mathematics, Word problems, Cultural models, Discourse models en_US
dc.title From textual problems to mathematical relationships: case studies of secondary school students and the discourses at play in interpreting word problems en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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