Title

Cooperative Learning on Mathematical Problem Solving: Reflections by a Traditional Teacher and Her Students

Date of Completion

12-31-1990

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Abstract

As our society becomes more technologically complex, the educational system preparing our students to become citizens of this society must adapt to met changing demands. Mathematical literacy of the 21st century will require a different model of mathematics education than that which served in the past. This thesis argues for a model of mathematics education which includes as key components: problem solving, question posing, cooperative learning, concrete manipulatives, and teaching for thinking. This new model sets forth guidelines for a facilitative approach to the teaching of mathematics as opposed to the more traditional, authoritative model. This facilitative model is based on the constructivist view of learning and is presented in contrast to one based on the behaviorist view. Ultimately, it is in the mathematics classroom that any changes in the mathematics educational system must be played out. The author discusses her implementation of a series of lessons with seventh graders, which incorporated the key components of the facilitative model listed above. The focus is on the changes required of the teacher and the difficulties encountered by a traditional teacher attempting to move toward a more facilitative classroom. Issues of sharing classroom control, of student-teacher interaction, of curriculum design, of lesson planning, and of functioning within the framework of a traditional school are delineated and reflected upon. Recognition of the intrinsic difficulty of the change required is key to the development of a view of the teacher as a reflective learner. The teacher in the classroom must recognize the ongoing process of growth and change required to remain an effective facilitator of learning and must continually search for unique ways to support that growth in both self and others.

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