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Students’ perspectives on mathematics: An interview study of the perceived purposes of school mathematics among Swedish gymnasium students
KTH, School of Education and Communication in Engineering Science (ECE).
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Studenters perspektiv på matematik. : En intervjustudie av svenska gymnasieelevers uppfattning om syftet med skolmatematik (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Mathematics is a compulsory subject throughout elementary school as well as during the

first year of the gymnasium, which is Swedish secondary education for students in the age

range 16 to 19. It is also prioritized higher than many other school subjects, which is

obvious when looking at the amount of time it takes up or the fact that, together with

Swedish and English, it makes up the three subjects students need to pass in order to

graduate. Mathematics is obviously perceived to be extremely important by those in

charge of the education system, and this study examines whether Swedish gymnasium

students perceive the same importance. It is also examined whether the perceived

purposes of mathematics differ between students on vocational tracks and those on

academic tracks.

The purpose of the study was to gain insights into students’ thoughts on mathematics, as

well as to determine whether there were any significant differences between the thoughts

of students on different tracks. These insights could be valuable to teachers and those

responsible for the education system, since they offer a student perspective on learning in

general and on mathematics education in particular.

The data collection was done through eight group interviews with a total of 31 students,

whereof 15 from vocational tracks and 16 from academic tracks. In the interviews,

questions relating to the students’ perceived purposes of school mathematics were

discussed. The results clearly showed that both students on vocational and academic

tracks perceived mathematics education to be extremely important, and they were all of

the opinion that it had to be a compulsory school subject. However, some interesting

differences were found in how students on different tracks argued for its importance.

During the interviews students shared many interesting perspectives on mathematics

education, with encouraging as well as somewhat worrying views made visible. During the

analysis of the results, some specific aspects were selected and discussed further.

The results indicate that there are grounds for conducting further research within the area

to seek explanations behind some of the student perspectives found in this study. It

would also be highly interesting to further research the discovered differences between

students on vocational and academic tracks.

Abstract [sv]

Matematik är ett obligatoriskt ämne genom hela grundskolan och även under första året

på gymnasiet. Genom att se till antalet timmar avsatta för matematikundervisning, eller

det faktum att matematiken tillsammans med svenska och engelska utgör de tre ämnen

som eleverna måste klara för att ta examen, blir det tydligt att matematik prioriteras

högre än de flesta andra skolämnen. Det är uppenbart att matematik anses vara extremt

viktigt av de som är ansvariga för utformningen av skolsystemet och i denna studie

undersöktes huruvida denna uppfattning även delas av gymnasieelever. I studien

undersöktes också ifall det finns skillnader mellan hur elever på yrkesförberedande

program och högskoleförberedande program uppfattar syftet med

matematikundervisning.

Syftet med studien var att få insikt i elevers tankar om matematik. Syftet var också att få

svar på om det fanns signifikanta skillnader mellan elever på yrkesförberedande och

högskoleförberedande program. Sådana insikter kan vara värdefulla för lärare såväl som

för de som är ansvariga för skolsystemet eftersom de bidrar med ett elevperspektiv på

lärande generellt och matematikundervisning specifikt.

Datainsamlingen gjordes genom åtta gruppintervjuer med totalt 31 elever varav 15 på

yrkesförberedande program och 16 på högskoleförberedande program. Under

intervjuerna diskuterades frågor som rörde elevernas uppfattningar om syftet med

skolmatematik. Resultatet visade tydligt att elever på yrkesförberedande såväl som på

högskoleförberedande program var av åsikten att matematikundervisning är extremt

viktigt och alla ansåg att matematik måste vara ett obligatoriskt skolämne. Dock

upptäcktes intressanta skillnader i hur studenter från olika program argumenterade för

vikten av matematikundervisning.

Under intervjuerna gav eleverna många intressanta perspektiv på matematikundervisning

och upplyftande såväl som oroande aspekter synliggjordes. Under analysen av resultatet

valdes ett antal ämnen ut som sedan behandlades ytterligare under diskussionsavsnittet.

Resultaten indikerar att det finns grunder för att göra ytterligare forskning på ämnet för

att söka orsaker bakom några av studentperspektiven funna i denna studie. Det vore

också av intresse att undersöka de observerade skillnaderna mellan elever på

yrkesförberedande och högskoleförberedande program vidare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 80 p.
National Category
Mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-171073OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-171073DiVA: diva2:841859
External cooperation
Stockholms Universitet
Subject / course
Mathematics
Educational program
Master of Science in Engineering - Engineering and of Education
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2015-07-15 Created: 2015-07-15 Last updated: 2015-07-15Bibliographically approved

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