Counteracting destructive student misconceptions of mathematics

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Abstract

In this article, we ask the question of what it takes for targeted efforts to be reasonably successful in altering students’ misconceptions and unproductive beliefs and ensuing myths about mathematics as a discipline and a school subject and about themselves in relation to mathematics, so as to pave the way for satisfactory learning. We attempt to answer this question through the analysis of three cases of upper secondary school students, who all struggled with mathematics-related difficulties due to myths resulting from misguided beliefs, erroneous proof schemes, or mistaken interpretations of the didactical contract, the three theoretical constructs we employ in the study. We describe how specially educated teachers, so-called “mathematics counsellors”, taking part in a professional development program conducted by the authors, were able, firstly, to identity these students, then to diagnose more precisely the nature of their difficulties, and finally to design targeted interventions in order to assist the students in actually overcoming (parts of) their difficulties and eventually dispelling some of the myths they were influenced by. We further offer an analysis of the elements responsible for the success of these interventions. More precisely, we identify five such elements. Finally, we zoom in on the role and intricate connectedness of the three theoretical constructs mentioned above.

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APA

Jankvist, U. T., & Niss, M. (2018). Counteracting destructive student misconceptions of mathematics. Education Sciences, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8020053

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