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Mathematical learning opportunities for all

Anita Movik Simensen of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled «Matematiske læringsmuligheter for alle. En styrkebasert flerkasusstudie om elever som presterer lavt i matematikk sin deltakelse i heterogene smågrupper» and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Thursday 07 April 2022. (Photo: Private)

My study shows the potentials of inclusive education and that students who perform low in mathematics can contribute with sophisticated mathematical reasoning that surpasses that of their fellow students and contribute to the collective actualization of mathematical knowledge.

Anita Movik Simensen

PhD Candidate

The disputation will be held on campus and digitally. Spectators may follow the disputation on campus or digitally - link available below.

 

Anita Movik Simensen of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled «Matematiske læringsmuligheter for alle. En styrkebasert flerkasusstudie om elever som presterer lavt i matematikk sin deltakelse i heterogene smågrupper» and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Thursday 07 April 2022.

She has followed the PhD-programme at the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder with specilisation in Mathematical Sciences, Scientific field Mathematics Education.

Summary of the thesis by Anita Movik Simensen:

Mathematical learning opportunities for all

Mathematics is an important part of people’s lives, both because it is useful in everyday life and as a gatekeeper to higher education. Therefore, it is important that all students have access to mathematical learning opportunities and receive the support necessary to be successful.

Learning opportunities

Students’ achievement in mathematics has historically been explained by innate abilities.

However, research has reported that adapted learning opportunities, hard work and good study habits are crucial for students’ achievement in mathematics.

Further, research indicates that being labelled as “low achieving in mathematics”, tend to reproduce low achievement.

In this study, I address mathematical learning opportunities for students considered low achieving in mathematics. More precisely, I investigate how student–student multimodal interaction can invite, or hinder, learning opportunities for students considered low achieving in mathematics.

The overarching research question in my study was: What characterizes mathematical learning opportunities in heterogeneous small groups for students who perform low in mathematics?

Guided by this research question, I have addressed relational aspects of interpersonal communication in students’ collaborative work on tasks in mathematics.

Impact of fellow pupils

Furthermore, the results showed that the learning opportunities for the focus students were related to how they were invited to or prevented from actualizing mathematical knowledge

Peers invited the focus students explicitly to participate, for example, by asking them to show or to explain or by being critical of their explanations.

They were also able to invite implicitly, by being silent or by getting stuck during the task, which gave room for the focus students to participate in meaning-making processes.

On the other hand, peers hindered the focus students’ learning opportunities by expressing low expectations, ignoring them, or hindering their access to materials.

Findings

The findings show that there can be ample learning opportunities for students who perform low in mathematics when working collaboratively in heterogeneous groups.

However, these depend on group composition, invitations by peers, and access to materials. The suitable tasks for heterogeneous groups should be challenging, so the peers will not be able to immediately solve them, as well as accessible so everyone can participate from the beginning. Such tasks are known as LIST tasks (low-threshold, high-ceiling; in Norwegian lav inngang, stor takhøyde).

My study shows the potentials of inclusive education and that students who perform low in mathematics can contribute with sophisticated mathematical reasoning that surpasses that of their fellow students and contribute to the collective actualization of mathematical knowledge.

Disputation facts:

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place on campus in  Auditorium B1 001, Campus Kristiansand and online (registration link below)

Project Manager at the Department of Mathematical Sciences Elna Svege, University of Agder, will chair the disputation.

The trial lecture Thursday 7 April at 10:30 hours

Public defence Thursday 7 April at 12:30 hours

 

Given topic for trial lecture«Hva sier nyere forskning, inkludert forskning fra de tre siste årene, om læringsmuligheter for elever som presterer lavt i matematikk?»

Thesis Title«Matematiske læringsmuligheter for alle. En styrkebasert flerkasusstudie om elever som presterer lavt i matematikk sin deltakelse i heterogene smågrupper»

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder.

The thesis is available here:

https://uia.brage.unit.no/uia-xmlui/handle/11250/2987450

 

The CandidateAnita Movik Simensen: (1977, Lakselv) General teacher education, Finnmark University College (2004). Masters degree in Mathematics Education, Agder University College (2006). Master thesis: «Utforskende aktiviteter som utgangspunkt for addisjon og subtraksjon i en andre klasse: en kasusstudie». Present position: Assistant Professor in Mathematics Education at the University of Tromsø and a 20 % Postdoc position in the project «Matematikkundervisning i urfolks- og migrasjonskontekster»,

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor Lisa Björklund Boistrup, Malmö University, Sweden

Second opponent: Professor emeritus Troels Lange, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Associate Professor Unni Wathne, University of Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment committee.

Supervisors in the doctoral work were  Professor Pauline Vos, UiA (main supervisor) and Professor Anne Berit Fuglestad, UiA (passed away in 2018) and Professor Mirjam Olsen Harkestad, UiT (from 2018) (co-supervisors)

What to do as an online audience member:

The disputation is open to the public, but to follow the trial lecture and the public defence digitally, transmitted via the Zoom conferencing app, you have to register as an audience member: (If you attend the disputation in the Auditorium, you do not need to register)

https://uiano.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5AvdOuhrz8sGdFhYY06BwjtBW7quhp3HGqo

A Zoom-link will be returned to you. (Here are introductions for how to use Zoom: support.zoom.us if you cannot join by clicking on the link.)

We ask online audience members to join the virtual trial lecture at 10:20 at the earliest and the public defense at 12:20 at the earliest. After these times, you can leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. Further, we ask audience members to turn off their microphone and camera and keep them turned off throughout the event. You do this at the bottom left of the image when in Zoom. We recommend you use ‘Speaker view’. You select that at the top right corner of the video window when in Zoom.

Opponent ex auditorio:

The chair invites members of the public to pose questions ex auditorio in the introduction to the public defense, with deadlines. It is a prerequisite that the opponent has read the thesis. Questions can be submitted to the chair Elna Svege on e-mail elna.svege@uia.no