Investigating opportunities for learning number concepts and operations in mathematics that are provided in upper primary textbooks in Malawi.
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Abstract This study investigated the opportunities for learning number concepts and operations in mathematics that are available to learners in upper primary classes in Malawi. Learners’ textbooks for grade 5 to grade 8 were analyzed using the Mathematical Discourse of Instruction (MDI) framework developed by Adler and Ronda (2015). The analysis was based on exemplification as one of the interacting components of a mathematics lesson that help to illuminate what is made available to learn. The study specially sought to understand the opportunities to learn mathematics that are created by the textbooks in upper primary classes for learners to participate in mathematical discourses. The MDI framework helped the investigator to analyze the four textbooks thereby answering the following questions: What opportunities to learn number concepts and operations are provided through the examples and task in the textbooks? How do the tasks enable enactment of the learning objects that are stated in the textbooks? And To what extent do tasks allow learners to apply and connect critical features of the mathematical content? The study used mixed methods approach in which MDI analytical tool for textbook analysis (Ronda & Adler, 2017) was used for data collection. The findings suggest that the textbooks do not provide a balanced range of examples and tasks as such, the textbooks offer few high-level thinking examples and few high-level cognitively demanding tasks. The textbooks emphasize on computations and procedures without connection, which are of low-level of thinking and low-level cognitive demands of tasks. The textbooks in upper primary school in Malawi offer few tasks with presentation and modeling, interpretation, argumentation, reflective-thinking and reasoning competence that will challenge learners and help them to develop their understanding. In general, the textbooks in upper primary classes in Malawi offer lower level thinking examples and lower level cognitively demanding tasks that provide few opportunities for learner to mediate several learning outcomes in a set of examples.
Master's thesis in mathematics education for international students