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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Identifying with Mathematics : the effects of conceptual understanding, motivation, and communication on the creation of a strong mathematical identity

  • Author(s): Mansukhani, Veena Prakash
  • et al.

Many students struggle with understanding the importance of higher-level mathematics to their lives and rarely identify with the math they engage in. In order for students to identify with math, or see themselves as learners of mathematics, it is important to provide students with a curriculum that addresses conceptual understanding, motivation, and communication. Identifying with Mathematics was developed for educators to help students identify with math through investigation, communication, peer discussions, a meaningful project, and student reflections. There were three goals of Identifying with Mathematics. The first goal was to help students see the relationship between mathematics and the real world while increasing their ability to solve problems. The second goal focused on creating a classroom environment that facilitated communication and allowed students to effectively use academic language through meaningful peer discussions. The third goal was for students to create a strong mathematical identity by combining strategies that build conceptual understanding, motivation, and communication. Identifying with Mathematics was implemented in a ninth-grade geometry classroom. Data from interviews, student surveys, student reflections, investigative lessons, a project, and field notes were analyzed to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum. The results indicate that students' perceptions of themselves as learners of mathematics became stronger. Students gained self-confidence while participation and motivation levels increased. In addition, students increased their use of academic language during classroom discussions and exhibited high-quality work in their projects. Overall, students' mathematical identities became stronger as a result of a curriculum that empowered student to take charge of their education

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