Transition to university mathematical discourses: A commognitive analysis of first year examination tasks, lecturers’ perspectives on assessment and students’ examination scripts

Thoma, Athina (2018) Transition to university mathematical discourses: A commognitive analysis of first year examination tasks, lecturers’ perspectives on assessment and students’ examination scripts. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia .

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the transition from secondary school to university
mathematics at the setting of closed book examinations. I chose a first-year
undergraduate module on Sets, Numbers and Probability, given its
transitional nature from school to university mathematics; and, its coverage
of a variety of mathematical topics. The data of the study includes lecture
notes; worksheets and exercise sheets; six examination tasks; interviews
with the two lecturers who posed the tasks and their solutions to these; and,
twenty-two students’ examination scripts. I use Sfard’s (2008) theory of
commognition to analyse the examination tasks, lecturers’ interviews, and
students’ scripts. Specifically, an adaptation of Morgan and Sfard’s (2016)
analytical framework enriched by a category regarding students’ solutions is
used. The adapted analytical framework is applied to the tasks and student
data focusing on: word and visual mediator use; engagement with routines;
and, participation in varying mathematical discourses. In the lecturer data, I
concentrate on lecturers’ assessment practices aimed at students’
engagement with the university mathematics discourse.

The analysis of the lecturers’ interviews and examination tasks revealed:
directions on the procedure of mathematical routines and the expectations
of what constitutes a sufficient student response; the gradual structure of
tasks; students’ enculturation in the mathematical community (e.g., defining,
proving, justifying). Findings suggest that lecturers, through their experience
in marking students’ scripts in coursework and examinations, seem to design
the tasks with awareness of students’ difficulties and aim to assist them in a
smooth transition between the different mathematical discourses. However,
the analysis of students’ scripts shows evidence of commognitive conflicts
between school and university mathematical discourses or different
mathematical discourses at the university level. Especially, I report cases
concerning conflation of different discourses (e.g., Set Theory and
Probability or algebra) which is visible in students’ use of suitable visual
mediators and their engagement with the routines. This insight into students’
transitions suggests that explicit attention needs to be given in the transitions
between these discourses during the teaching period.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Zoe White
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2019 14:06
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2019 14:08
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/70208
DOI:

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