03 SES 10 JS, Issues of Achievement and Curriculum in Mathematics Education
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 3 and NW 24
Several Mathematics education researchers have stressed the importance of transforming teaching methods, encouraging the use of methods that promote the involvement of the pupils in the learning process (Ponte, Matos & Abrantes, 1998; NCTM, 1994, 2007). Some studies have shown that the knowledge that teachers have of how pupils learn the content of Mathematics has a positive effect on curricular development (Ponte et al., 1998; Ponte & Quaresma, 2012). They argue, therefore, that "it is not enough to listen to an explanation to understand a concept. It is essential that this concept acquires significance, and that only happens when the concept is associated to the previous experience of an individual" (Ponte et al., 1998, p. 323). The idea that a student learns Mathematics through the explanation of the concepts, by teachers presenting examples and the practice of applying them in various exercises, using the same concepts, is a perspective that has come to be questioned by researchers into Mathematics education. That is why the importance of the pupils’ involvement in the learning process and the relationship of the syllabus to its context in their lives, has come to be supported.
Assuming that curricular contextualization helps pupils to improve their learning, due to the fact that it helps them relate what is taught to their daily lives, it is relevant to study the way in which this is presented in Mathematics.
The proposals that point in the direction of contextualization consider that this is a procedure that could help all pupils reach higher levels of learning (Bergamaschi, 2007; Gillespie 2002; Smith, 2005; Leite, Fernandes, Mouraz, Morgado, Esteves, Rodrigues, Costa e Figueiredo, 2011; Nascimento, 2010; Morgado, Fernandes e Mouraz, 2011; Stemn 2010). This belief includes an underlying principle that if education is based on the interests, knowledge and real life experiences of the pupils, it makes for better learning.
A review of the literature on this concept allowed us to identify that curricular contextualization has concretized around the following foci: a) The place/context, that is, procedures that keep in mind cultural traits, life habits and the customs and everyday knowledge of the local community and that, for this reason, corresponds to an "education based on place" (Smith, 2005); b) The subject/pupil, which corresponds to procedures that start from the belief that the contextualization of knowledge implies attending to the pupils’ interests, rhythms and learning styles, cultures, difficulties and successes (Leite & Fernandes, 2002); c) The syllabus, in other words, procedures where the subjects are the main reference for the process of the contextualization of knowledge; d) The pedagogical practices which have as their foundation the idea of the importance of differentiated curricular processes being developed (Fernandes et al., 2011; Mouraz et al., 2012; Fernandes, Leite et al., 2012).
It is in the context of these ideas that the communication which is proposed here presents a small part of a more ample study which was done with the objective of producing knowledge about the place of curricular contextualization in Mathematics, in the 7th to 9th year of school. To do this, from an empirical point of view, the opinions of the pupils that allow us to characterize the importance and the meaning that pupils of the 7th to 9th years attribute to curricular contextualization in learning Mathematics are resorted to.
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