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Pedagogic practice between tradition and renewal: A study of the new mathematics curriculum in Mozambique
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Education, Language, and Teaching.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The new school mathematics curriculum in Mozambique, introduced in 2008, is partly competency-based and it advocates a more student-centred pedagogy. The most salient innovative features are the incorporation of mathematical competencies related to the development of students’ reasoning skills, including argumentation, justification and analytical thinking, and the use of heuristic or inductive methods that promote meaningful students’ participation. These ideas are meant to overcome a focus on mastering mathematical techniques and to change the social base of instruction towards more student involvement.In the study, the curriculum innovations have been investigated at three levels, in the official curriculum document issued by the state, in two commonly used textbooks that were published after the reform, as well in the practice of five teachers working in schools from areas in the south, centre and north of Mozambique.After identifying the foundations for the innovation in the general goal statements of the curriculum document, the re-descriptions of the innovative aspects throughout all sections of the syllabus, which amongst others include lists of content distribution, detailed suggestions for approaching topics and guidelines for assessment, have been investigated. The textbook analysis comprises an investigation of how a range of topics is introduced in the expository sections, at which level of formality the texts operate, and what types of tasks are proposed for the students. The focus was on whether the mathematical principles were made explicit, which relations between mathematical sub-areas and between school knowledge and everyday knowledge are established, and how the reader is positioned in relation to the knowledge. The investigation of classroom practice was one central feature of the study. This is based on the view, that eventually what evolves in classroom interaction is the curriculum the students encounter. Several lessons of five teachers were video-recorded and the data were complemented by teacher interviews. The analysis in the study is based on a discursive approach to mathematics learning and draws on some of the concepts of Basil Bernstein’s sociology of education and related theories.One outcome of the analysis of the curriculum document is that it does not resemble any identifiable conception. The innovative aspects fade away in the detailed suggestions for approaching the mathematical topics. There is a tension between the high degree of the syllabus’ explicitness and the possible space for teacher interpretation, which might bring with it the reduction of the teacher’s initiative in the classroom. It seems that there are different ideologies behind the declamatory introduction section of the syllabus and the sections detailing mathematical topics and lesson plans. The two textbooks analysed in the study recontextualise the main innovative aspects of the curriculum in restricted and only slightly different ways. Both books introduce a formal type of mathematics in most of the topics, and the tasks include mostly closed questions, which do not include opportunities for comparing different solution strategies and justification of the choices made. However, the relationship between the text and the reader is framed differently in the books.In comparison with other pedagogic practices reported in international comparative studies, the observed lessons were generally strongly framed in terms of interaction, and the mathematics appeared quite formal. A communal mode of interaction, where students often answer in chorus, was characteristic for many lessons. This mode of interaction is in contrast to the recommendation of incorporating individual students’ ideas. General cultural patterns of interaction can be assumed to contribute to the observation of relatively strong hierarchical rules in the classrooms. But in all teachers’ lessons there were occasions, when students’ contributions were valued and incorporated into the teacher’s lesson plan. Such more inclusive moments often arose when the students’ everyday knowledge was involved. Another aspect of the lessons observed, also due to the textbooks’ approaches, was a focus on or a quick switch towards presenting mathematics at a high degree of formalisation after phases of student involvement, while often at the same time accelerating the pace.The shortage of resources, including a lack qualified teachers, which is partly a consequence of the growth of pupils’ enrolment, imposes severe constraints on classroom practice. Obviously, a more student-centred pedagogy, which attempts to involve students’ contributions in order to develop their skills in mathematical reasoning and argumentation, is restricted by the schools’ limited resources, such as crowded Classes, too small classrooms and lack of provision of auxiliary materials. There does not seem to be much research or reported examples that offer some wisdom for classroom management in this situation. Taking into account the specific historical and cultural context of Mozambique, much of what has been written about curriculum reform, especially in relation to the teacher’s role, needs to be calibrated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå tekniska universitet, 2012. , 241 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-18307Local ID: 7ed8d021-b9c1-49c2-a189-f0af514e497cISBN: 978-91-7439-481-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-18307DiVA: diva2:991314
Note
Godkänd; 2012; 20120828 (balbina); DISPUTATION Opponent: Professor Candia Morgan, Institute of Education, University of London United Kingdom Ordförande: Professor Eva Jablonka, Institutionen för konst, kommunikation och lärande, Luleå tekniska universitet Tid: Tisdag den 23 oktober 2012, kl. 10.00 Plats: D2214, Luleå tekniska universitetAvailable from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29Bibliographically approved

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