This thesis reports on a three-part research project in which the images of
mathematics and mathematicians held by lower secondary pupils were
investigated.
A survey tool which asked pupils to draw a picture of a mathematician
at work, and which included a Likert-type scale and open-ended writing
prompts, was designed and developed for use in an international study of
pupils in five countries (n = 476). The results indicate that while some pupils
hold stereotypical images in common, all pupils appear to know very little
about mathematicians and the work they do. Mathematicians' invisibility to
pupils of this age appears to affect their images of mathematics.
The tool was refined and utilised again as part of two interventions in
the United States: the first attempted to see if images would be affected by a
unit in graph theory and discrete mathematics topics (n = 28); the second
brought pupils (n = 174) together with a panel of mathematicians. Each
intervention had different strengths, but both widened pupils' views of
mathematics, enabling them to see it as more than just a study of numbers.
In a third small study, professionals in the mathematics field (n = 106)
from ten countries were asked in a short survey to comment on Who is a
mathematician? and Who may call oneself one? Findings of this portion of
the study indicate a lack of a unified vision among members of the
mathematics community and some evidence of an elitism which would restrict
who may define themselves as a mathematician.

Date of Award | 2000 |
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Original language | English |
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Awarding Institution | |
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AN INVESTIGATION OF LOWER SECONDARY PUPILS' IMAGES OF MATHEMATICS AND MATHEMATICIANS

PICKER, S. H. (Author). 2000

Student thesis: PhD