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Problem-solving can reveal mathematical abilities: How to detect students' abilities in mathematical activities
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Computer Science, Physics and Mathematics.
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Problemlösning kan avslöja matematiska förmågor : Att upptäcka matematiska förmågor i en matematisk aktivitet (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Dahl, Thomas (2012). Problemlösning kan avslöja matematiska förmågor. Att upptäcka matematiska förmågor i en matematisk aktivitet (Problem-solving can reveal mathematical abilities: How to detect students‟ abilities in mathematical activities). Linnéuniversitetet 2012; ISBN:978-91-86983-28-4. Written in Swedish.The thesis deals with the problem of identifying and classifying components of mathematical ability in students‟ problem-solving activities. The main theoretical framework is Krutetskii‟s theory of mathematical abilities in schoolchildren. After a short historical background focusing on the question of differentiation or integration among students on the basis of their various aptitudes for studies, the theory of mathematical ability and especially the Krutetskiian theory are described. According to Krutetskii mathematical ability should be looked upon as a structure of seven or eight different components called abilities which may appear and be subject to analysis during a mathematical activity.Krutetskii used school pupils and experimental problems to establish the relevance of his structure of abilities. However, in this work the theme is approached from the opposite perspective: If a problem and an experimental person are given, which mathematical abilities will appear and in what ways do they appear in the mathematical activity? The empirical study uses three so called “rich mathematics problems” and 98 students of which 37 study at the lower secondary school, 39 at the upper secondary school and 22 at the teacher education programme. The output data is either the written outcomes of the students‟ individual work on a problem or the recordings from small groups of students solving a problem in cooperation with their peers.In order to identify and classify abilities, the separate components of mathematical ability must be interpreted and adapted to the specific problem on which the students are working. I call this process of conformation of the abilities operationalization and the question in focus is if such an operationalization can be done successfully. The results indicate that it could be done and several examples are given which show how one or several mathematical abilities may come out more or less strongly in the mathematical activity of problem solving. The results also indicate that even low or average achieving students may show significant creative abilities. Another observation from the empirical study is that creative abilities do not seem to be more abundant among upper than lower secondary students. These two observations point out possible pathways to proceed further in the study of mathematical abilities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 87 p.
National Category
Research subject
Mathematics, Mathematical Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-21205ISBN: 978-91-86983-28-4OAI: diva2:544690
2012-01-31, 14:40 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-08-15 Created: 2012-08-15 Last updated: 2012-08-15Bibliographically approved

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