Mathematical

Topics: Mathematics, Problem solving, Mathematics education Pages: 21 (7079 words) Published: June 20, 2013
Critiquing the Mathematical Literacy Assessment Taxonomy:  Where is the Reasoning and the Problem Solving?   

Hamsa Venkat 1  Mellony Graven 2  Erna Lampen 1  Patricia Nalube 1    1 Marang Centre for Mathematics and Science Education, Wits University  hamsa.venkatakrishnan@wits.ac.za; christine.lampen@wits.ac.za; patricia.nalube@wits.ac.za  2 Rhodes University 

m.graven@ru.ac.za   
  In this paper we consider the ways in which the Mathematical Literacy (ML) assessment  taxonomy provides spaces for the problem solving and reasoning identified as critical to  mathematical  literacy  competence.  We  do  this  through  an  analysis  of  the  taxonomy  structure  within  which  Mathematical  Literacy  competences  are  assessed.  We  argue  that  shortcomings  in  this  structure  in  relation  to  the  support  and  development  of  reasoning  and  problem  solving  feed  through  into  the  kinds  of  questions  that  are  asked  within  the  assessment  of  Mathematical  Literacy.  Some  of  these  shortcomings  are  exemplified  through the questions that appeared in the 2008 Mathematical Literacy examinations. We  conclude the paper with a brief discussion of the implications of this taxonomy structure  for  the  development  of  the  reasoning  and  problem‐solving  competences  that  align  with  curricular  aims.  This  paper  refers  to  the  assessment  taxonomy  in  the  Mathematical  Literacy Curriculum Statement (Deparment of Education (DOE), 2007). 

Mathematical Literacy was introduced as a new subject in the post-compulsory Further Education and Training (FET) curriculum in 2006. Its introduction made a mathematically-oriented subject – either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy – compulsory for all FET learners. The curriculum statement for Mathematical Literacy defines the subject in the following terms: Mathematical Literacy provides learners with an awareness and understanding of the role that mathematics plays in the modern world. Mathematical Literacy is a subject driven by life-related applications of mathematics. It enables learners to develop the ability and confidence to think numerically and spatially in order to interpret and critically analyse everyday situations and to solve problems. (DOE, 2003, p. 9) This definition alongside the broader description of the new subject’s aims in this document places emphasis on the need to develop life-oriented competences for a range of everyday situations in which mathematical reasoning and mathematical tools can be brought to bear productively to aid informed decision making and problem solving. Situational reasoning relating to the identification and selection of salient features of the context is therefore required alongside and integrated with mathematical reasoning.

Pythagoras, 70, 43-56 (December 2009)

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Critiquing the Mathematical Literacy assessment taxonomy

Within this definition, we highlight two features that the broader literature suggests are central to the notion of mathematical literacy1 that is promoted in the South African rhetoric: firstly, the need for the reasoning that is implicated within the need to “think numerically and spatially” and to “interpret” and “critically analyse everyday situations”; and secondly, the need for “problem solving”. Both of these aspects have significant bodies of literature associated with them in the field of mathematics education – some focused on the teaching and learning of mathematics, and some specific to discussions of mathematical literacy. Olkin and Schoenfeld (1994), focusing on mathematics, describe problem solving in terms of “confronting a novel situation and trying to make sense of it” (p. 43). Steen, a leading advocate of what he terms “quantitative literacy” comments that centrally what quantitatively literate citizenship requires is “a predisposition to look at the world through mathematical eyes … and to approach complex problems with confidence in the value of careful...

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Critiquing the Mathematical Literacy assessment taxonomy
Prince, R., Frith, V., & Burgoyne, N. (2008, August). Mathematical Literacy  Grade 11 and 12 exemplars. Paper presented at the South African Mathematics Society Workshop. Pretoria. Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (2007). Functional skills standards. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency. Available at http://orderline.qcda.gov.uk/gempdf/ 1847215955.pdf. Scribner, S. (1984). Studying working intelligence. In B. Rogoff & J. Lave (Eds.), Everyday cognition: Its development in social context. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Steen, L. A. (2001). The case for quantitative literacy. In L. A. Steen (Eds.), Mathematics and democracy. The case for quantitative literacy (pp. 1-22). Washington, DC: The Mathematical Association of America. Available from http://www.maa.org/ql/mathanddemocracy.html. Umalusi. (2009). 2008 Maintaining standards report. From NATED 550 to the new national curriculum: Maintaining standards in 2008. Pretoria: Umalusi. Venkat, H., Graven, M., Lampen, E., Nalube, P., & Chitera, N. (2009). Reasoning and reflecting in Mathematical Literacy. Learning and Teaching Mathematics, 7, 47-53. Available from http:/www.sun.ac.za/ mathed/AMESA/amesal_n7_a13.pdf.
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