Middle school students' mathematical dispositions in a problem-based classroom Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/bg257j39x

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  • The purpose of this study was to describe middle school students' mathematical dispositions in a problem-based learning [PBL] classroom. Eight volunteer students from one 6th grade mathematics classroom participated in this study. The curriculum used was the Connected Mathematics Project [CMP]. The main sources for data collection were classroom observations, the Attitudes and Beliefs questionnaire, teacher interviews, and student interviews. The CMP class routine consisted of four phases: Warm-up, Launch, Explore, and Summarize. The teacher in this study had her students investigate mathematics problems within cooperative small groups and share their ideas in large group discussions. The teacher acted as a facilitator and encouraged her students to try new ideas without fear of making mistakes. The findings revealed that almost all of the students in this study demonstrated positive mathematical dispositions. They volunteered and shared their ideas, both in small cooperative group investigations and in large group discussions. They believed mathematics was about "learning new ideas" and mathematics was "life" because it was everywhere in their lives. They also mentioned the usefulness of numbers, measurement, and geometry in their daily lives. All eight participants liked hands-on activities and working on a mathematics project. Most of them agreed that they liked mathematics because it was fun and interactive. Most also saw themselves as good at mathematics. All of them agreed that mathematics was useful, and that one's mathematics ability could be increased by effort. They also believed that there were no gender differences in mathematics, even though in their class, they realized that boys outperformed girls. Most of the students agreed that they could solve time-consuming mathematics problems and that it was important to understand mathematical concepts. None of them had negative feelings about group work; they learned from each other. Finally, an analysis of the participants' mathematical dispositions was discussed. Based on the Taxonomy of Educational Objects: Affective Domains by Krathwohl, Bloom, and Masia (1964), the participants were categorized into three disposition levels: Level 1: "receiving;" Level 2: "responding;" and Level 3: "valuing." Half of the participants demonstrated dispositions at the high level (Level 3: "valuing") because of their willingness to pursue and/or seek to do mathematics outside the classroom. Three of them were in mathematics disposition Level 2.3: "satisfaction in response" because they usually participated in the class activities. They were satisfied and enjoyed doing mathematics. One of them demonstrated mathematical disposition Level 1.2: "willingness to receive" because she listened to the whole class and group discussions without sharing any ideas or asking for help when she needed it.
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