Changing students’ beliefs about the relevance of mathematics in an advanced secondary mathematics class

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    Abstract

    This study shows that using authentic contexts for learning differential equations in a differentiation-by-interest setting can enhance students’ beliefs about the relevance of mathematics. The students in this study were studying advanced mathematics (wiskunde D) at upper secondary school in the Netherlands. These students are often not aware of the relevance of the mathematics they have to learn in school. More insights into the application of mathematics in other sciences can be beneficial for these students in terms of preparation for their future study and career. A course differentiating by student interest with new context-rich curriculum materials was developed in order to enhance students’ beliefs about the relevance of mathematics. The intervention aimed at teaching differential equations through guided small-group tasks in scientific, medical or economical contexts. The results show that students’ beliefs about the relevance of mathematics improved, and they appreciated experiencing how the mathematics was applied in real-life situations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-102
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
    Volume51
    Issue number1
    Early online date17 Nov 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020

    Keywords

    • Education
    • differential equations
    • differentiation by interest
    • relevance of mathematics
    • task design

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