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Using Mathematical Practices to Promote Productive Disposition Duane Graysay, Sara Jamshidi, and Monica Smith Karunakaran The Pennsylvania State University

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Overview ●Students o Upward Bound, 5-week program o College-like experiences for high school students ●Course o Emulate mathematical research practices o Survey questions and interview protocols assessed Productive disposition Understandings of mathematics as a profession

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Motivation of the Project ●Mathematics is taught as a Practical Tool o Concept o Procedures o Applications ●Mathematics is also a Field of Inquiry o Development of… Concepts Procedures o Often inspired by applications

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Specific Questions ●How does engaging in inquiry projects impact students’... o understanding of what it means to “do math”? o perceptions of themselves as mathematically able? o productive and unproductive beliefs regarding math?

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Students 21 students, selected by Upward Bound 11 female, 10 male Students from underrepresented groups Potential 1st-gen college students, and Many needed additional college-prep experiences o Only one claimed to have done “write ups” before o Significant proportion reported they did not like math

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Task Selection ●Accessibility o Imaginable o Mathematizable o Approachable (little prior knowledge)

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Task Selection - Types ●Type I: Solvable & Formalizable o Solvable: There should be a solution that can be found using problem-solving heuristics. o Formalizable: There must be an opportunity to formalize the solution. ●Type II: Representative & Generalizable o Representative: The scenario must exemplify a generic type of problem. o Generalizable: Solving the scenario should afford a general understanding of solutions for the generic type.

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Sample Task (Type I) ●Four Queens Problem o Queens can move horizontally vertically diagonally o A piece is “attacking” another if it is one move away. o How many ways can you arrange 4 queens on a 4x4 board so that no queen is attacking another?

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Sample Task Process ●Exploration ●A Solution is Proposed! ●Class Discussion ●Remaining Solutions Found ●Final Step: Justifying the Solutions

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Activity Principles 1.Introduce the problem o mathematical content is not clearly expressed 2.Make sense of the problem o use mathematics to model the problem 3.Arrive at a (partial) solution o discussion follows 4.Construct a viable argument o satisfy mathematical principles

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Mathematical Practices (NGA Center & CCSSO, 2010) ●Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. ●Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others ●Model with mathematics ●Attend to precision (in communicating with others) ●Look for and make use of structure

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●Math can be creative (P) ●Getting answers correct is more important than understanding why the answer is correct (U) ●Most math problems have only one way to solve them (U) ●Knowing how to perform a procedure is more important than understanding why it works (U) ●Students can discover math without it being shown to them (P) ●Students learn math better when they work together (P) ●Students should be able to figure out for themselves whether answers are correct (P) ●I am confident in my ability to help my peers (P) ●It is important for me to learn mathematics (P)

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Outcomes ●Students tended to disagree with unproductive beliefs from the beginning o Exceptions: They tended to agree that... Knowing how to perform a mathematical procedure is more important than understanding why the procedure works. The teacher should do most of the talking in the classroom.

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Observed Outcomes ●“Students can discover math on their own.” o Slight movement toward agreement ●“Students learn better when they work together.” o Movement toward agreement and strong agreement ●“Knowing how to perform a mathematical procedure is more important than understanding why the procedure works.” o Movement toward disagreement (5 switched to disagree; 9 maintained disagreement) ●“The teacher should do most of the talking in the classroom.” o Much movement toward disagreement and strong disagreement. o (9 switched from agreement to disagreement on this)

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●“Math is easy for me to do.” o Students became more moderate about this statement ●“I feel confident in my ability to help my peers.” o Slight movement toward disagreement Observed Outcomes (cont.)

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Dana’s polar shift on 6 of 13 statements After the course, she disagreed that: ●Math is mostly facts and procedures to memorize, ●It is important for her to learn math, ●Math is easy for her to do, ●The teacher should do most of the talking in the classroom, and agreed that ●Students should be able to figure out whether an answer is reasonable.

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Dana’s Responses (cont.)

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Understanding of Mathematics “How would you describe math to someone?” BEFORE 1.“equations to solve problems” 2.“It's not a good time, but it is very important” 3.“Lots and lots of numbers and letters” AFTER 1.“involved logical and critical thinking” 2.“A problem with many routes to the answer” 3.“math is using logic to systematically break down problems using numbers and letters to solve for the bigger problem”

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Understanding of Mathematics “What is the job of a Mathematician?” BEFORE 1.“different jobs teach research” 2.“to find the measurements of everything they want” 3.“Teach others the use of the numbers and how they can work together” AFTER 1.“They try to come up with new formulas and solutions to problems.” 2.“Use the things we do everyday and apply math to make it much easier” 1.“Trying to solve hard problems and explaining them specifically.”

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Understanding of Mathematics “What is required to be successful at math?” BEFORE 1.“It is required that you know you numbers and be able to think a problem through.” 2.“to be successful at math it is required that you know to multiply, divide, add and subtract” 3.“understanding of the basics” AFTER 1.“The capability to think logically and have determination in order to solve the problem” 2.“you need to have a flexible mind” 3.“critical thinking and focus”

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How did the course affect students? “I think through the class,... the way that the problems were set up... they didn’t seem like mathematical problems. They were... problems that you might run into in everyday situations.... that’s also part of the reason why I liked the class.... My [original description of what mathematicians do was] ‘all they do is math, they just solve math problems’.... I didn’t talk at all about how they use question given to create a logical answer for it.”

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Summary ●These inquiry projects, under the set activity principles, appeared to… o Maintain existing productive beliefs o Promote a more productive understanding of the nature of mathematics o Promote more productive perspectives on collaboration and active participation

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