University of Limerick
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Promoting student interest in mathematics : a framework for effective teaching of algebra at junior cycle

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posted on 2022-08-17, 08:56 authored by Mark Prendergast
In 2010, figures show that only 45 per cent of Irish students took Higher Level mathematics for the Junior Certificate examination and only 16 per cent took Higher Level mathematics for the Leaving Certificate examination Research suggests that there are two major reasons for such low numbers, namely; ineffective teaching (NCCA, 2006) and a subsequent lack of student interest in the subject (PISA, 2003). Traditional styles of teaching make it difficult for students to take an interest in a confusing topic in which they can see no immediate relevance (MacGregor, 2004). This is particularly true regarding the topic of algebra and its teaching in school (Herscovics and Linchevski, 1994). Taking steps to enhance student interest in the mathematics classroom is one of the most direct ways to approach the problem of ineffective mathematics teaching (Mitchell, 1993). This thesis describes a pedagogical framework designed by the author for the purpose of promoting student interest in mathematics through effective teaching using the topic of algebra as an exemplar. The framework identifies and integrates three theoretical perspectives, one for each of the main issues highlighted in italic. These theoretical perspectives include pedagogical principles, a model for conceptualising algebraic activity and a model for interest development. Once the design of the framework is complete it is field-tested through the development, implementation and evaluation of a teaching intervention. This intervention takes the form of an algebra revision package for 1st year (12 -14 year old) students. It was implemented in five Irish Second level schools between September 2009 and June 2010. Its evaluation reached a successful conclusion showing that an appropriately designed pedagogical framework supported theoretically can bring about positive changes in student attitude.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

O'Donoghue, John





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