- Using project work as a motivating factor in lower secondary mathematics

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# Using project work as a motivating factor in lower secondary mathematics

Author

Tan, Stanislaus Thiam Lye

Supervisor

Chang, Agnes Shook Cheong

Abstract

This study examines the impact of problem-based learning (PBL) on the mathematical achievement, attitudes towards mathematics, and self-efficacy perceptions of Secondary Two Express Stream and Secondary Two Normal Academic Stream students. For attitudes towards mathematics, specifically, six dimensions were investigated: Perception of the Mathematics Teacher, Anxiety towards Mathematics, Value of Mathematics in Society, Self-Concept in Mathematics, Enjoyment of Mathematics, and Motivation in Mathematics.

Altogether, 70 students - 37 from the Express Stream and 33 from the Normal Academic Stream - were involved in this study. All the subjects were drawn from two intact classes of an all-boys government-aided school. They had not been previously exposed to any PBL experience.

For the ten-week project, the subjects were required to work on a business proposal in groups of four. In their role as entrepreneurs, the students were tasked with developing a business proposal to be presented to a group of Loans Officers from a bank, who will then decide on whether or not to grant them a loan for their business venture. The project work given to the students employed the 'post-hole' approach to PBL. Rather than designing an entire course around problems, the 'post-hole' approach is a shorter version of the PBL model.

Quantitative data were collected through administering Richard Sandman's Mathematics Attitude Inventory (MAI) while qualitative data, through the use of a reflection questionnaire. The MAI was used in the pre-test and the post-test questionnaires. The pre-project MAI was carried out prior to the project work and, immediately after the ten-week project work, the post-project MAI and reflection questionnaire were administered.

For both groups of pupils, the findings reveal that project work had a significant and positive effect on mathematical achievement, attitude towards mathematics (overall), perception of the mathematics teacher and motivation in mathematics. The impact on the following attitudinal constructs was negligible: anxiety towards mathematics, value of mathematics in society, self-concept in mathematics, and enjoyment of mathematics.

The findings also indicate that PBL had helped the Express and Normal students improve in their teamwork skills, problem solving abilities, communication skills, social skills, and thinking skills. Unlike the Express students, the Normal students believed that their self-directed learning skills had been enhanced after doing the project work.

Altogether, 70 students - 37 from the Express Stream and 33 from the Normal Academic Stream - were involved in this study. All the subjects were drawn from two intact classes of an all-boys government-aided school. They had not been previously exposed to any PBL experience.

For the ten-week project, the subjects were required to work on a business proposal in groups of four. In their role as entrepreneurs, the students were tasked with developing a business proposal to be presented to a group of Loans Officers from a bank, who will then decide on whether or not to grant them a loan for their business venture. The project work given to the students employed the 'post-hole' approach to PBL. Rather than designing an entire course around problems, the 'post-hole' approach is a shorter version of the PBL model.

Quantitative data were collected through administering Richard Sandman's Mathematics Attitude Inventory (MAI) while qualitative data, through the use of a reflection questionnaire. The MAI was used in the pre-test and the post-test questionnaires. The pre-project MAI was carried out prior to the project work and, immediately after the ten-week project work, the post-project MAI and reflection questionnaire were administered.

For both groups of pupils, the findings reveal that project work had a significant and positive effect on mathematical achievement, attitude towards mathematics (overall), perception of the mathematics teacher and motivation in mathematics. The impact on the following attitudinal constructs was negligible: anxiety towards mathematics, value of mathematics in society, self-concept in mathematics, and enjoyment of mathematics.

The findings also indicate that PBL had helped the Express and Normal students improve in their teamwork skills, problem solving abilities, communication skills, social skills, and thinking skills. Unlike the Express students, the Normal students believed that their self-directed learning skills had been enhanced after doing the project work.

Date Issued

2002

Call Number

QA14.S55 Tan

Date Submitted

2002