The usefulness of everyday mathematics in the senior secondary curriculum: a controlled experiment

Grinker, Claudine
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The focus of this research report is on a controlled experiment I performed at a Johannesburg secondary school, which I called Corn-Tech High. The experiment was of a quasi-experimental nature. The aims of the experiment were to see if teaching through methods related to the use of materials based on everyday mathematics (realistic/ethnomathematics) improved pupils' academic performance in any significant way, and to observe if teaching in this way had any effect on pupils' attitudes to school mathematics. The experimental material was created from an ethnomathematical perspective bearing Dewey's experiential learning in mind. The pupils in the experimental group worked in a social constructivist manner. Unexpected results showed that although everyday based activities improved pupils' attitudes, unless they had a sound instrumental understanding of related concepts, ethnomathematical methods did not improve their mathematical performance. The results are explained in terms of Kant's epistemology of the a priori synthetic, Piaget's constructivism and Skemp's relational understanding.