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Disputerer på finske skolebarns matte-tenkning

Finske skoleelever har hatt svært gode resultater i internasjonale undersøkelser som PISA. Hvordan tenker de matte?

Hanna Leena Viitala disputerer for ph.d.-graden med avhandlingen «Studying pupils’ mathematical thinking through problem solving and view of mathematics - Case studies of Finnish comprehensive school pupils» fredag 6. april 2018.

Finske skoleelever har hatt svært gode resultater i internasjonale undersøkelser som PISA. I det siste viser resultatene nedadgående trend.

I avhandlingen har Hanna Leena Viitala forsket på hvordan skoleelevene tenker matematikk i slutten av sin obligatoriske skolegang. For å få en dypere kvalitativ forståelse for hvordan elevene lærer matematikk har hun dybdeintervjuet fire elever som oppnår gode resultater.

Funnene viser at selv om alle fire er interessert i matematikk og oppnår gode resultater, er dyktigheten og prestasjonsevnen forskjellig ut fra den enkeltes personlighet når det kommer til måten å tenke matematikk på.

Viitala har fulgt doktorgradsprogrammet ved Fakultet for teknologi og realfag med spesialisering i matematikkdidaktikk. Dette er disputas nummer 19 i matematikkdidaktikk.

Slik beskriver kandidaten selv essensen i avhandlingen:

Pupils' mathematical thinking is more personal than expected

Finnish pupils have succeeded well in international studies (PISA and TIMSS) being one of the top countries in mathematics performance.

However, the most recent national and international assessments show that the mathematics performance is declining.

Knowledge of pupils mathematical thinking

While these large-scale studies show the level of pupils’ performance, we need more qualitative knowledge of pupils’ mathematical thinking.

The aim of the research project was to study Finnish pupils’ mathematical thinking at the end of compulsory school.

Mathematical thinking was studied through problem solving and view of mathematics, using observations, problem-solving activities and interviews. Combining the fluctuating state data and more stable trait data resulted in a comprehensive framework that can be used in future intervention studies, or after some modifications in mathematics classrooms, to support the development of individual pupils’ mathematical thinking.

High-achieving pupils

In the research report, four Finnish high-achieving pupils’ mathematical thinking is described.

All the pupils are successful problem-solvers and have positive affect towards mathematics.

Especially their descriptions of learning mathematics entailed similar strengths and weaknesses as was found in their problem-solving processes.

Individual differences

However, a deeper look into their mathematical thinking showed that their skills and competences in mathematics are very different, depending on their personal characteristics.

Among other things, the results raise discussion on the difference between mathematical problem-solving and mathematical modelling, equality in pupil assessment, and how the development of mathematical thinking can make learning mathematics more meaningful.

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