24 SES 12, The Meta-Curriculum in Mathematics: The Aspiration, Occurrence and Promotion of Higher-Order Thinking in Mathematics Classrooms Internationally
Mathematics curricula in different countries frame their goals differently, but each curriculum identifies some form of higher order thinking as important. These higher order thinking skills can be thought of as a meta-curriculum that transcends conventional mathematical facts and procedures. Our primary interest in this symposium is in the classroom realization of those curricular objectives that transcend content and might be interpreted as constituting this meta-curriculum or the promotion of “mathematical thinking.” By “mathematical thinking” we mean forms of mathematical reasoning that transcend specific content areas or topics. Curriculum guidelines such as national curriculum standards embody the expectations and the outcomes that an educational system aspires to achieve. While the promotion of student mathematical thinking is an important curricular objective for school mathematics in many countries, how mathematics and mathematical thinking are conceived and intended to be taught may differ from one country to another (e.g. Clarke, Goos & Morony, 2007). In this symposium, we report research addressing the questions,
(i) To what extent does the curriculum aim to promote some form of generic and higher order mathematical thinking?
(ii) To what extent can such higher order mathematical thinking be identified in mathematics classrooms around the world?
(iii) How might teachers promote higher order mathematical thinking in their classrooms?
There is a significant and empirically demonstrable difference between a teacher’s ability to recognise such higher order thinking, the capacity to create the conditions for its occurrence, and possession of the skills required to actively promote its development by students. The research reported in this symposium illustrates and distinguishes these three capabilities.
The three presentations in this symposium represent a narrative from the aspiration to the utilisation of the mathematics classroom to achieve the goals of this meta-curriculum. The first presentation (Clarke & Mesiti) uses the mathematics curricula of Australia, China and Finland to illustrate different curricular goals related to the promotion of higher order thinking and then reports research into the actual instructional strategies employed by mathematics teachers in China, Japan, Sweden, Singapore, Australia and the U.S.A. to promote higher order thinking skills in their classrooms. Presentation Two (Hommel & Clarke) reports the investigation of the creation of classroom conditions conducive to student reflection in selected mathematics classrooms in Australia, Germany, Japan and the USA. Presentation Three (Aizikovitsh-Udi, Kuntze & Clarke) examines the promotion of higher order thinking through the use of “hybrid tasks” intended to stimulate content-related thinking (in this case: statistical thinking) and critical thinking through the same activity. In combination, these presentations report research into the classroom realization of the goals of the meta-curriculum internationally, leading to recommendations for more effective implementation. The general category of higher order thinking skills that we have identified as constituting a “meta-curriculum” are consistently advocated, but inconsistently framed, unevenly realised, and only occasionally promoted in classrooms. This symposium suggests that effective implementation of the meta-curriculum will require more specific structure and greater teacher guidance and support.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
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