Date of Award

1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Judith Rivalland

Second Advisor

Alistair McIntosh

Abstract

This descriptive study examines journal writing for the purpose of identifying aspects of children's mathematical reflective ability. It was hypothesised that encouragement to engage with the process of mathematics by reflective writing would reveal and assist learning, and give children a vehicle through which they could express their attitudes about the mathematics they were learning. The aim of this study was to find answers to the following question: How does the keeping of a mathematical journal reveal children's understandings of the mathematics they are learning? Other questions related to the study were: -What evidence is there from the journals about children's attitudes to the mathematics they are learning? -How do the journals reveal evidence of development in the children's understanding of the mathematics they are learning, and their ability to monitor their learning? A class of 27 year six children was chosen for the study. Each child wrote a journal entry following each mathematics lesson for four weeks. After two weeks and after four weeks they also wrote about their reactions to the journal writing. Other data were collected through observational notes and the class teacher's written response to the use of the journals in her class. The most interesting aspect of this study that became evident was the awareness of these children of the usefulness of the journals. Even in the early stages of the study, the children were conscious that something was happening for them in the course of journal writing. They were becoming aware of the value of reflecting on what they had been doing and they were enjoying their freedom to comment about their lessons resulting in a positive response to journal writing from all children. Evidence from the children's journals and their journal appraisals showed the growing, conscious engagement with their mathematical/earning and, for some children, a realisation that there was more to mathematics than facts and procedures to be memorised. These children were beginning to be intrinsically motivated by the mathematics itself, rather than by how many calculations they had got correct. The journals also proved to be a valuable method of communication between the children and their teacher, especially for those children who did not talk much during class. As well as traditional testing, the teacher had gained another way in which to ascertain what the children understood (or misunderstood) about their mathematics and to be able to respond to it immediately. There was also an interesting outcome of the combination of "hands-on" activities, discussion and written reflection. This series of events provided the largest amount of written evidence of mathematical understanding. The use of journals tor mathematics reflection grew from a shaky acceptance at the beginning of the research study to something which the children really enjoyed and could use to discover things about themselves as mathematicians and to communicate with their teacher. This arose from a small activity, which took very little teacher preparation, and occupied five minutes at the end of each lesson.

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