Tim Pelton, Michael Willers, University of Victoria
The goal of this project is to promote scientific and mathematical literacy by integrating specifically designed laboratory activities, demonstrations, and projects into enriched Mathematics 9 – 12 courses. The enriched mathematics classes extend over a school year, but combine content from two or more mathematics courses. The overlap or continuation of PLO’s between combined courses creates opportunities for instructional time to be allocated to efforts to improve mathematical and scientific literacy. This project focuses on the research, development, implementation, and evaluation of laboratory activities, demonstrations, and projects that can be integrated into these courses to promote scientific and mathematical literacy.
Mathematical literacy has become an increasingly important focus in mathematics education over the past decade. There seems to be international agreement that mathematical literacy should be an important focus of schooling because numerate students are not only better able to learn at school but better equipped for both their everyday and their post-schooling lives (Kemp & Hogan, 2000). Students' understanding of mathematical ideas can be built throughout their school years if they actively engage in tasks and experiences designed to deepen and interconnect their knowledge (NCTM, 2000). Mathematics makes more sense and is easier to remember and to apply when students are able to connect new knowledge to existing knowledge in meaningful ways (Boaler 1998; Schoenfeld 1988; Skemp 1976).
Integrated projects and lab activities provide a meaningful context for both the mathematical and the scientific knowledge. We expect that integration of such activities in the classroom will increase students’ mathematical literacy levels, and positively influence their attitudes towards both science and mathematics. The educational impact of these enrichment activities will be assessed using a quasi-experimental control/comparison research design. Data will include observations, interviews, achievement test data, analysis of student project work, and attitude scale data.