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ERIC Number: EJ1093105
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0045-0685
Student Understandings of Numeracy Problems: Semantic Alignment and Analogical Reasoning
Davis, James
Australian Mathematics Teacher, v69 n2 p19-26 2013
Despite compulsory mathematics throughout primary and junior secondary schooling, many schools across Australia continue in their struggle to achieve satisfactory numeracy levels. Numeracy is not a distinct subject in school curriculum, and in fact appears as a general capability in the Australian Curriculum, wherein all teachers across all curriculum areas are responsible for numeracy. This general capability approach confuses what numeracy should look like, especially when compared to the structure of numeracy as defined on standardised national tests. Given the heavy content of the Australian curriculum, the use of rich, context based mathematics is not a common approach to teaching mathematics. Teaching the contexts, as well as the mathematics, is often too time consuming for most schools. In cases where context, relational understanding and the use of analogies have been studied, the involvement students have in the analogical reasoning processes have been limited. This limited student control over the reasoning processes is a possible reason why students misunderstand worded problems. As a consequence, the teaching of mathematical worded problems is not something that happens in great depth in mathematics classrooms, and it certainly does not happen in the form of numeracy, in other curriculum areas. Identifying the difficulty students experience with worded problems, one school has sought to address this by explicitly teaching students to interpret and understand numeracy worded problems. This study is an analysis of one schools approach to addressing low levels of numeracy. The school is a state high school in regional southern Queensland with approximately 1000 students. The primary barrier to students achieving better numeracy outcomes was identified in terms of the specific literacy requirements for solving worded problems. These worded problems appear in National Assessment Program--Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests, and as such they define the nature of required numeracy skills in our schools. The aim of this paper is to present a theoretical rationale for this school's approach, and to describe the methodology and teaching experiences of an innovative extra numeracy program for Year 9 students.
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education; High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A