Encouraging Mathematics – Essay Example

Encouraging Mathematics When learning from famous mathematicians in history, researchers discovered that for these individuals, “mathematics colors their view of everything around them” (Olszewski-Kubilius, Limburg-Weber & Pfieffer, 2003, p. 60). Researchers believe that it is their passion for finding mathematical explanations to make sense of the world that made them mathematically talented. The passion for exploration of problem and the enjoyment of manipulating numbers and figures have been found as more significant in mathematical development than memorization of facts and formula. Encouraging curiosity for mathematics is considered a significant step to enhance passion and enjoyment.
Problem solving strategies in mathematics have been found to improve the overall performance of students in mathematics. Aside from achieving higher test scores, they are able to articulate properly their understanding of the concepts orally and in writing. The aim of this strategy is to apply mathematical concepts to real life situations [contextualize the lesson], and thus increasing motivation and encouraging curiosity. Students become more engaged in learning, and teachers can use this approach in almost all mathematical concepts from basic operations to higher mathematical concepts, such as algebra and geometry.
Student engagement has also been ranked highly as facilitating motivation for mathematical learning. The primary goal of this approach is to establish the sense of ownership among students of their learning. Using manipulatives is one way to engage the students in the learning process, as well as note-taking and power point presentations. “When students are actively motivated and busy reaching learning goals, they are also actively constructing knowledge and moving toward successful mastery of key concepts” (Frei, 2008, p. 15). There can be a wide implementation of these strategies in the different key concepts. The more students learn by doing, the higher retention level acquired.
Cooperative learning is another exciting method for students to learn. It gives them an opportunity to productively interact with peers and learn from each other. There are different ways that a classroom can be structured for cooperative learning; students may be grouped in pairs or in small groups of 3 to five where they tackle a collaboratively tackle a set of problems. This is also a method that has been successfully used to help low ability students. Furthermore, high ability students can create better connections between concepts and applications to real life situations.
Incorporating games and technology is also an effective way of engaging students and increasing their curiosity. Games and computers are becoming the world of the younger generation and these can be used to reinforce their skills, review information and build retention of mathematical concepts. They will naturally find the activities most enjoyable and challenging. Graphic calculators have also been most effective for higher mathematics.
All of the strategies mentioned above have varied applications inside the classroom. Integrating mathematics with other subjects through an interdisciplinary project will also help students realize the applications of mathematics in daily life.
Olszewski-Kubilis, P., Limburg-Weber, L. & Pfieffer, S. (Eds.). (2003). Early gifts: Recognizing and nurturing children’s talents. Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press Inc..
Frei, S. (2008). Teaching mathematics today. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.