A teacher's journey into problem solving mathematics with deaf learners.

Scott-Wilson, Rina
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The main objective of this study was to explore how Deaf learners orientate to a problem solving mathematics curriculum. The study took the form of an autoethnography situated in critical pedagogy. Purposeful sampling was used to select Grade 9 learners from a local school for the Deaf as participants. Data was collected from the learners using a structured questionnaire, viz. Students Orientation to Mathematics (SOM), as well as through focus group sessions and personal interviews. In addition, teachers’ and parents were interviewed to ascertain the general orientation of Deaf learners to mathematics and to identify barriers that may prevent these learners from progressing optimally in their studies of mathematics. Although the learners had difficulties in accessing particular pedagogical aspects of problem solving mathematics, the findings showed a slight increase in the learners’ study attitude and study habits towards mathematics and in their problem solving skills. Moreover, the learners particularly enjoyed the activity element of the problem solving curriculum. At the end of the study the learners indicated that they preferred a modeling problem solving approach to a more traditional way of teaching mathematics. Although the study points out that implementing a problem solving curriculum into a Deaf classroom is not necessarily straightforward, it does suggest that with exposure Deaf learners can develop a propensity for working within a cognitively rich problem solving environment.
Deaf, Problem solving mathematics, Reform mathematics, Barriers to mathematics, Orientation to mathematics