A Conceptual Framework for Mathematical Ability Analysis Through the Lens of Cultural Neuroscience

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 56 (2012) 175 – 182

International Conference on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (ICTLHE 2012) in conjunction with RCEE & RHED 2012

A Conceptual Framework for Mathematical Ability Analysis through the Lens of Cultural Neuroscience Aisha Mahmooda, *, Mohd Fauzi Othmanb, Yudariah Mohammad Yusof c b

Centre for Engineering Education, School of Graduate Studies, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, UTM Skudai, 81310, Johor,Malaysia Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, UTM Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Semarak, 54100, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia c Department of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, UTM Skudai, 81310 Johor,Malaysia

a

Abstract This paper present a conceptual framework that will be used for analyzing divergence in mathematical thinking, skills, abilities, processes and achievements in mathematics through the lens of cultural neuroscience. The bidirectional interface between mathematical thinking and cultural neuroscience is used to explore different learning styles, cognition patterns and neural activities in response of mathematical thinking influenced by culture. Research questions are emerged as how do innate mathematical abilities, plasticity of the young brains and the mathematical cultural environment contribute to mathematical thinking? Why do a group of students from one ethnicity tend to achieve higher scores in mathematics than a group of students from another ethnicity? How does cultural neuroscience report the differences in mathematical thinking and learning trajectories? How does culture accelerate the mathematical thinking? © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of of Centre of Engineering Education, 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility Centre of Engineering Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Keywords: Mathematical Ability Analysis; Mathematical Thinking; Cultural Neuroscience; Interpretivism; Mixed Method Research;

1. Introduction Strength in mathematics is a gauge of a nation’s scientific and technological standing. Therefore, mathematics education gets big concern and becomes a hot polemic by the government especially the Ministry of Education (MOE) Malaysia. Since 1992, some common themes that appeared in the local news media reflect this concern. For example, “Maths help from Chinese schools” (The star, 21 January 1992); “Ministry studying Chinese approach to mathematics” (New Strait Times, 21 January 1992); “Teaching Math the Chinese way” (The Star, 3

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +6-019-313-4679 E-mail address: maisha2@live.utm.my

1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Centre of Engineering Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.09.644

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Aisha Mahmood et al. / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 56 (2012) 175 – 182

September, 1999) and lately “Success of Chinese students in science and math to be studied” (Business Times, 2 September 2004). Malaysian Examination Board yearly report for the year 1991-2001 also showed a clear difference in mathematics achievement of three ethnic national type schools. From the newspaper headlines and graphical representation of the above report as shown in figure 1, we found that Chinese students are high achievers in mathematics examination. Since the performance gap is decreased from 1991 to 2001 but still Chinese are dominant in the percentage passes. The above stated situation leads to several questions and potential research themes. Major concern is to identify the factors affecting the mathematics achievement and question arises “can we manipulate these identified factors for improved mathematical skills”. One research domain related to culture and math in...
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