Maths Sparks engagement programme: investigating the impact on under-privileged pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics

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Title: Maths Sparks engagement programme: investigating the impact on under-privileged pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics
Authors: Ní Shúilleabháin, AoibhinnCronin, AnthonyPrendergast, Mark
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/12524
Date: Jun-2021
Online since: 2021-09-30T13:58:02Z
Abstract: In this paper we explore the attitudes of under-privileged secondary school pupils in Ireland towards mathematics and investigate the impact of attending a 4-week engagement programme on these attitudes. The pupils involved in this research attended schools recognized by the Department of Education & Skills as socio-economically deprived. Pupils attending these schools, known as Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS), are 40% less likely than their counterparts in non-DEIS schools to pursue mathematics at a higher level in state examinations (Smyth, E., Mccoy, S. & Kingston, G., 2015, Learning From the Evaluation of DEIS. Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute). However, little research has reported on these pupils’ experiences of and attitudes towards mathematics at senior secondary level. An engagement programme entitled ‘Maths Sparks’ was purposefully designed for secondary pupils from DEIS schools, with the aim of positively influencing their attitudes towards and confidence in mathematics. The programme consisted of weekly out-of-school workshops exploring extra-curricular mathematics topics, designed and delivered by undergraduate mathematics students. Questionnaires were utilized to evaluate pupils’ attitudes towards mathematics before and after their participation in the programme. Despite its relatively short time frame, qualitative and quantitative analysis suggests an increase in participating pupils’ attitudes towards, enjoyment of and self-confidence in mathematics due to their participation in the programme. Findings also suggest that while these pupils liked the subject of mathematics, their experience of learning the subject in school was not always positive and was sometimes hindered by the absence of higher-level mathematics as an option in school. The high-stakes examination content and teachers’ beliefs in the ability of their students also sometimes negatively impacted learners’ intentions to pursue mathematics at a higher level. Findings suggest that longitudinal mathematics engagement programmes, which focus on problem solving, involve extra-curricular mathematical concepts and are presented by undergraduate mathematics students, may provide a valuable way of positively impacting pupils’ intentions to pursue the subject.
Funding Details: Science Foundation Ireland
University College Dublin
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Journal: Teaching Mathematics and its Applications: An International Journal of the IMA
Volume: 40
Issue: 2
Start page: 133
End page: 153
Copyright (published version): 2020 the Author
Keywords: Mathematics engagementMaths SparksUndergraduate tutoringNear-peer tutoringSocio-economic disadavantageDEIS
DOI: 10.1093/teamat/hraa009
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
ISSN: 0268-3679
This item is made available under a Creative Commons License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ie/
Appears in Collections:Mathematics and Statistics Research Collection

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