What are the factors — cognitive, social and environmental — that enable students to most effectively undertake the modelling process, to develop mathematical representations of a real-world problem?
After decades of researching and operationalizing mathematical modelling in classrooms, Professor Vince Geiger, Associate Professor Gloria Stillman, Dr Jill Brown, Professor Peter Galbraith and Professor Mogens Niss worked together to form the Mathematical Modelling Enablers team here in Australia. They were successful in winning funding from the Australian Research Council to undertake the “Using mathematics to solve real world problems: The role of enablers” research project.
The project began actively researching in 2017, working with teachers and students in Queensland and Victorian classrooms. The project is scheduled for completion in December 2021.
The overarching aim of this project was to determine how to best support students in learning how to use mathematics to solve real-world problems.
The goals of this study were to:
(1) identify and describe the enablers (capabilities) students must possess to successfully develop mathematical representations of real-world situations (e.g., equations, graphs, diagrams); (2) establish principles of task design that support enabler development or that assist in identifying enablers students are yet to acquire; and (3) develop and refine teaching practices (pedagogies) that support students’ acquisition of enablers of modelling.
The team worked with teachers in Queensland and Victoria, developing activities and strategies for successful implementation of mathematical modelling problems. Over four years, the team visited classrooms to observe and analyse what enabled students in their mathematical modelling.
This study has generated new theoretical insights (enablers of mathematisation, anticipatory metacognition), and practical strategies (tasks, pedagogies) needed to progress students' success with modelling real-world problems.