Thursday, April 7, 2011

Running Head: Passive or Passionate Participation in Mathematics.

Gottler, R. (Ed.). (2010). Running head: passive or passionate participation in mathematics. Marygrove College Detroit, MI

This very interesting article discusses the results of a study conducted with 5th grade students in a mathematics class to determine if student participation affected the overall understanding of the material taught. The author, like most teachers is striving for excellence in his craft and determined that students who were not participating in class during his mathematics lessons and as a result “were less likely to find meaning in their learning”. The research was undertaken using a sample study of 24 students and was conducted over a 3 month period. The first part of the study had the teacher lecturing to students after which an inquiry-based teacher model was implemented and this was used with student participation. Gottler used quantitative and qualitative data to determine how students participated, and in what capacity. The inquiry-based method of teaching seemed to encourage students to participate more than the lecture-based teaching. This article was basically unable to prove or disprove the notion that improved student participation in lessons leads to improved understanding of the content being taught to students. Crucially what the study did prove was that changes in teaching habits and methods do result in increased student participation.


“Changing one's mode of teaching is a methodical process that takes a great deal of effort, planning, and experience. Therefore, success may be the result of trial and error. All of this was considered when analyzing the results of the action research project. As a teacher of mathematics, it was the goal of the researcher to promote a positive attitude toward mathematics, help students gain confidence in their problem solving abilities, and engage them so that they were actively participating in their learning” (4).

“Active involvement and participation in mathematics is key to achieving this reality. It was also important that the students realized the value of asking questions, and getting involved in the learning process” (4).


Tuska, A., & Amarasinghe, R. (2007). The effects of participating in lesson studies on practices
of teaching mathematics. Proceedings from Ninth International Conference: The Mathematics Education into the 21st Century Project. Charlotte, NC: UNCC.

Tomlinson, C.A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms (2nd ed.).
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

1 comment:

Stacey Caillier said...

Cool! Did they describe the "inquiry based" approach to teaching in detail? What did this look like in that classroom? And were there any ideas you got for your own - things you could do to encourage more inquiry/participation as well?

The emphasis on inquiry here is powerful and could be a great route to pursue in your research. There is some great stuff written about inquiry-based teaching, and I'm sure there is a subset of it focused on history. I think you could get some great ideas from this stuff, and it aligns nicely to your goal of encouraging student participation in discussions and in their learning more generally! Keep seeking this stuff out!

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