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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Using small group discussions to gather evidence of mathematical power Anku, Sitsofe Enyonam


The purpose of this study was to investigate, with or without prompts, students’ small group discussions of their solutions to mathematical problems and to determine the extent to which the students demonstrate mathematical power. Mathematical power was defined in terms of student assessment standards (SAS) and their integration. SAS, each of which has associated with it categories of mathematical activities, comprise communication, problem solving, mathematical concepts, mathematical procedures, and mathematical disposition. Other insights perceived to be important from the discussions were also documented. Grade 9 students of the regular school program were used for the study. There were 18 students in the class but only one group of students comprising 2 females and 2 males was the focus of the study. They responded to mathematical problems individually for 20 minutes and then used 40 minutes to discuss, in groups, their solutions to the problems. Also, they responded to questionnaire items. The group discussions were video recorded and analyzed. Data were collected on 7 different occasions using 7 different problems over a period of 3 months. - Results of the study indicate that students demonstrated mathematical power to the extent that at least one category of the mathematical activities associated with each SAS was reflected by the small group discussions of students’ solutions to mathematical problems. Other results indicate that combining students written scripts with students’ talk provides a better insight into the things about which students are talking. Also, monitoring students and providing them with prompts while they work in groups is useful in helping them accomplish tasks in which they are engaged. Finally, when students work in groups, they can shift their viewpoints consensually or conceptually to align their viewpoints with majority viewpoints.

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