University of Tasmania
whole_SkalickyJaneLouise2009_thesis.pdf (27.38 MB)

Numeracy within reform-based learning environments : a synthesis of five dimensions of practice

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posted on 2023-05-27, 15:52 authored by Skalicky, Jane Louise
Numeracy has become as essential as literacy for any individual who wishes to participate fully in democratic society. Alongside a growing awareness of the importance of developing school students' numeracy capabilities has been a curriculum reform movement that emphasises values-based, authentic experiences and transdisciplinary learning. This reform has translated into a focus on developing lasting conceptual understandings of a coherent set of the key ideas and skills that students need to become critical and productive members of society. The aim of this thesis is to further understanding of numeracy from both a theoretical and a practical perspective in the context of schools undergoing curriculum reform. The study is concerned with the enactment of curriculum in the classroom, in which the roles and experiences of teachers and students are equally important. It considers the question, How are teachers positioning, and how are students experiencing, numeracy in reform-based learning environments? A synthesised view of numeracy, underpinned by social constructivist theory, is presented in this thesis. It acknowledges the complexity involved in numeracy and argues that multiple aspects, beyond mathematical skill, are necessary for the development of competent and effective numeracy practice. A focus of the study is the development of a conceptual framework for numeracy incorporating five dimensions of practice: Mathematics, Reasoning, Attitude, Context, and Equity. These dimensions provide the lens through which the beliefs and practices of the teachers who participated in the study are considered and the learning exhibited by individual student participants is examined. A qualitative collective case study was conducted through four phases of inquiry. Phase 1 involved an interview with the five participant teachers prior to their commencement of a unit of work that they had planned to achieve numeracy learning outcomes and that was informed by the Tasmanian Essential Learnings curriculum, the local curriculum framework at the time of the study. Phase 2 involved classroom observations of the units of work and incorporated researcher observations, teacher records, and student outcomes. During Phase 3, interviews were conducted with six students in each case study school. The final phase of the study was a reflective interview with each of the participant teachers. The results of the research are presented by case with data for teachers and their respective students reported together. Outcomes associated with the teachers and the students are presented in relation to the numeracy framework developed, conceptualised through five dimensions of practice. Within this broad view of numeracy, the diverse possibilities available both for teaching and for student learning are discussed, along with implications for curriculum design and professional learning. The thesis emphasises the potential for this newly developed multi-dimensional view to guide the numeracy education of students, thereby fulfilling the democratic goals of preparing students for their roles as future citizens.


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Copyright 2009 the Author CD-ROM contains appendices H-M. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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