Mathematical Modelling: the Interaction of Culture and Practice

TítuloMathematical Modelling: the Interaction of Culture and Practice
Tipo de publicaciónJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AutoresRojano T, Molyneux S, Sutherland R, Ursini S
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics. Special Issue Teaching and Learning Mathematics in Context, P. Boero, ed. 39: 167-183.

ABSTRACT. Using a sociocultural approach we analyse the results of a Mexican/British project which investigated the ways in which mathematics is used in the practice of school science and the role of spreadsheets as a mathematical modelling tool. After discussing the different school cultures experienced by two groups of pre-university 16–18 year old students we analyse how these different cultures influenced their practice of mathematics, as well as their work with mathematical spreadsheet modelling activities. There were clear differences between the two groups of students in their preference for external representations, in their understanding of the kind of answers they were expected to produce and in the way they conceived the role of mathematics in the practice of science. Although students’ preferences for a particular representation were not significantly modified by the use of a spreadsheet as a modelling resource, at the end of the study the students recognised the value of using a more diverse set of representations. The results obtained suggest the possibility of enhancing students’ capability to shift between a wider range of representations, including graphical, algebraic and numeric ones, using a modelling approach embedded in a computer environment such as a spreadsheet.

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