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Mathematics in the Swedish Upper Secondary School Electricity Program: A study of teacher knowledge
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UMERC)
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Mathematical knowledge is often a prerequisite for students at Swedish upper secondary vocational programs to be able to study vocational courses, for example electricity courses in the Electricity Program. Electricity Program students study mathematics in their electricity courses as well as in their mathematics course. The mathematics in those two settings has a different character. A goal of this thesis is to investigate what constitutes that character. In this study three mathematics and five electricity teachers have been interviewed about how they would explain three mathematical electricity tasks to students on the Electricity Program. Teacher knowledge in both electricity and mathematics has been used in the analyses and has been compared between the different teacher groups. In addition to providing an overview analysis of all the teachers’ explanations, detailed analyses have been carried out, comparing pairs of teachers’ explanations. The teachers’ choices of explanations and their use of specific and general mathematical knowledge have been studied.

Mathematics contains a wide range of subject areas but also a wide range of representations and methods that highlight different aspects of mathematics. This study shows that different teachers emphasize different aspects of mathematics in their explanations of the same tasks, even though intended to the same students, both in the their choices of explanation and in their use of mathematics. The electricity teachers drew upon their practical electrical knowledge when they connected their explanations of mathematics to vocational work. The electrical knowledge they used not only grounded the tasks in a, for them, well-known real-world environment. The electrical knowledge actually helped them to solve the tasks, albeit in a more concrete/specific way than the mathematics teachers. The electricity teachers drew upon more specific mathematical knowledge in their explanations of the interview tasks, whereas the mathematics teachers drew upon more general mathematical knowledge in their explanations.  The different explanations of mathematics from the two kinds of teachers are markedly different, depending on whether they have a more practical/vocational or a more general/algebraic approach. The solutions to the interview tasks turned out to be the same but the character of the solutions paths are substantially different. This raises questions regarding the students’ abilities to reconcile the different approaches.

Abstract [sv]

Kunskap i matematik är ofta en förutsättning för att studenter på gymnasiets yrkesprogram ska klara av sina yrkeskurser, till exempel i ellärakurser på elprogrammet. Studenterna på elprogrammet möter matematik i både sina ellärakurser och i sin matematikkurs. Matematiken i de här två sammanhangen har olika karaktär. Ett mål med den här licentiatavhandlingen är att undersöka hur dessa karaktärer ser ut. I denna studie har tre matematik- och fem el-lärare intervjuats om hur de skulle förklara tre matematiska eluppgifter för studenter på elprogrammet. Lärarkunskaper i både matematik och ellära har använts i analyserna och jämförts mellan de båda lärargrupperna. Utöver översiktliga analyser av alla lärarnas förklaringar av varje uppgift, har dessutom detaljanalyser gjorts, med jämförelser av par av lärares förklaringar av matematik. Lärarnas val av förklaringar och användande av specifik och generell kunskap i matematik har studerats.

Matematik innehåller ett flertal delområden och dessutom ett flertal representationer och metoder som belyser olika aspekter av matematiken. Denna studie visar att olika lärare betonar olika aspekter av matematik i sina förklaringar av samma slags uppgifter, trots att de är ämnade för samma slags elever. Lärarnas val av förklaringar och lärarnas användande av matematik visade sig vara olika. Ellärarna använde sig av praktisk elkunskap när de kopplade sina förklaringar av matematik till yrkeskunskaper inom elområdet. Den elkunskap de använde inte bara situerade uppgiften i för dem, en välkänd, verklig miljö. Dessutom hjälpte elkunskapen dem att lösa uppgifterna, om än på ett mer konkret/specifik sätt än matematiklärarna. Ellärarna använde mera specifika matematik-kunskaper i sina förklaringar av dessa intervjuuppgifter, medan matematiklärarna använde sig av generella matematikkunskaper i sina förklaringar av generell matematik. Matematiken i de två olika lärargruppernas förklaringar visade sig vara markant olika, beroende på om de har en mer praktisk/yrkesmässig eller en mer generell/algebraisk ansats. Lösningarna av intervjuuppgifterna var desamma, men karaktären av lösningarnas var markant olika. Detta leder till frågor om det är rimligt att förvänta sig att studenter ska förstå likheten i de olika ansatserna.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet , 2012. , 108 p.
Series
Studies in Science and Technology Education (FontD), ISSN 1652-5051 ; 55
Keyword [en]
mathematics education, teacher knowledge, electricity education, upper secondary school, vocational education, Swedish secondary school
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
didactics of mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-55548ISBN: 978-91-7459-429-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-55548DiVA: diva2:527413
Presentation
2012-06-05, Naturvetarhuset, N410, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

This licentiate thesis is included in the serie: Studies in Science and Technology Education (FontD) The Swedish National Graduate School in Science and Technology Education, FontD, http://www.isv.liu.se/fontd, is hosted by the Department of Social and Welfare Studies and the Faculty of Educational Sciences (OSU) at Linköping University in collaboration with the Universities of Umeå, Stockholm, Karlstad, Mälardalen, Linköping (host), the Linneus University, and the University of Colleges of Malmö and Kristianstad. In addition, there are three associated Universities and University Colleges in the FontD network: the University Colleges of Halmstad and Gävle and the Mid Sweden University. FontD publishes the series Studies in Science and Technology Education.

Available from: 2012-05-22 Created: 2012-05-21 Last updated: 2012-05-22Bibliographically approved

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