Investigating the use of audio materials to support mathematical learning : from curriculum access to reflective reciprocal learning
I was motivated to undertake this research by concerns that
arose from my professional and personal experiences in
education. I was concerned that students with visual impairment
were not being offered equality of access to the mathematics
curriculum. Some schools cited high visual content as a reason
for withdrawing students from mainstream classrooms.
The study set out to pursue the thesis that students'
experiences in mathematics education could be enhanced and
extended through using audio recordings as complementary means
of learning. It was carried out, in a variety of settings, with
students of upper primary and secondary age.
The value of applying a multi-method approach became evident
over three years of fieldwork. I supplemented Soft Systems
Methodology (Checkland and Scholes, 1990) with principles from
other methodologies in response to feedback on use and
production of audio materials. Students made invaluable,
constructive contributions in their roles as co-researchers. An
action-research approach evolved as most appropriate for the
A complex interplay of factors was found to affect the extent
to which audio recordings could be facilitative of inclusion.
As well as analysing these factors and considering their wider
implications, this account describes how my original
formulation of the research in terms of issues of access became
reconceived in terms of reflective, reciprocal learning.
The study opened up sources of information that, seemingly,
were being unexplored, under used, under valued and under
researched, namely the resources that students themselves
possessed. The study drew on case study material relating to
the learning experienced by individual students to explore an
emerging concept of reciprocal learning, both as a pedagogic relationship facilitative of inclusion and as a method for
practitioner research. It is recommended that further
exploration of the potential value of a reciprocal learning
approach should form the basis of future research.