An investigation of the effectiveness of using advance organizers and literacy strategies to promote student learning in mathematics : a research report.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
This study was designed to improve motivation and attitude towards mathematics in a mainstream Year 10 class, in a co-educational urban school. Many students in the class displayed a lack of endurance with set tasks, and needed prompting to complete a minimum amount of work. Some expressed a lack of confidence in their ability to succeed in the subject, and were easily distracted. The teacher approached the school's Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) to explore possible strategies, that when delivered to the whole class, would be of benefit to all students. Their subsequent collaboration involved the RTLB adopting the role of researcher, while the teacher implemented an intervention designed to measure the effects of a combination of strategies. The students involved in this study displayed a lack of motivation and an apathetic attitude toward mathematics work. They expressed frustration, and a sense of helplessness in the classroom. This was indicated by a range of behaviour and utterances, which included, "How are we supposed to remember all that?" "What's he going on about?" They gave up on tasks readily, and had to be constantly reminded to get on with their work. It was noticeable in the classroom that the teacher spent a great deal of time responding to individual student's requests for help. Despite students having the resources to help themselves, they did not do so spontaneously. It was posited that using advance organizers might help them to regulate their own activities more effectively, enabling them to become independent learners and improving self-efficacy levels. Academic engaged time and student achievement were measured pre and post intervention. Student feedback was sought in the form of a questionnaire and semistructured interview. Results indicate advance organizers, in combination with other strategies, are an effective tool that can contribute to improving student achievement and can re-orient student effort in appropriate ways. A number of implications for teachers and classroom practice were made, most significantly, that when advance organizers are used in conjunction with other carefully selected strategies, and presented to learners as part of a well-designed classroom programme, learning is enhanced, and students report, more enjoyable.