Interactive Construction of Interest and Engagement in Mathematics

by Rimma Nyman

Institution: University of Gothenburg / Göteborgs Universitet
Year: 2016
Keywords: interest; engagement; mathematics; TDS; classroom interaction; algebra teaching; years 6-9; video analysis
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064503
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/42319


The aim of this research project is to illuminate the interactive aspects of interest and engagement (IE) in mathematics in years 6-9, identified by researchers, teachers and students. Unlike most studies, IE is approached as an interactive, content-related construction. In particular, the studies capture what students attend to when dealing with algebra, how teachers recognise IE and what didactical strategies are used to interest and engage students in introductory algebra. Further, tasks seen by students as interesting and engaging are analysed. IE is discussed in relation to different frameworks and in light of the Theory of Didactical Situations in Mathematics (TDS). The most important results of the empirical studies are the descriptions of IE on different planes of the socio-didactical tetrahedron. There are opportunities to interest and engage students when they ask questions on the relevance structure, solve tasks on mathematical relations and validate the solutions of those tasks. To teachers, IE in introductory algebra is indicated by verbalisation, showing high concentration and enthusiasm when exploring the concept of variables. Useful didactical strategies are connected to the way the activities are arranged, for instance the use of open questions and the choice of context. Findings concerning algebra teaching show that the teachers prioritise the meso-level of the didactical contract to interest and engage students in mathematics. Interesting and engaging tasks have the target knowledge at the fore, a high level of challenge and elements of openness and sharing. Supported by the empirical findings presented in this thesis, it seems important to design didactical situations and tasks where interest and engagement are intentional and to put the mathematics content at the fore.