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Title: Primary children's interpretation and use of illustrations in school mathematics textbooks and non routine problems : a school based investigation
Author: Jellis, Rebecca Mary
ISNI:       0000 0001 3589 8824
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2008
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Illustrations form a major part of our increasingly visual world. They penetrate all aspects of life and are of particular importance to children when they are learning to read not only because they illustrate the text but also by providing the cues used to comprehend text. Unfortunately, this reliance, although essential in the early understanding of reading, may become a false friend when the illustration misinfonns or conflicts with the text. As publishers compete for their share ofthe education market, mathematics textbooks have tended to become more highly illustrated with eye-catching pictures designed to motivate pupils. However some ofthese illustrations may be detrimental in tenns of their misleading effect upon children's ability to read the associated text effectively. Using two main textbooks schemes in current use, the extent and value ofthe illustrations in each is considered. Initially, a small group ofnine children were observed and questioned while they were working on mathematical tasks from the textbooks, and examples from this small study show how children's mathematical thinking can be compromised by misunderstandings arising from the misreading of illustrations. Subsequently, using one hundred and twenty-eight Year 3 children from three primary schools, the effect illustrations may have upon children's mathematical perfonnance was examined further. Using non-routine mathematics questions the sample group were given different illustrated versions of challenging mathematics questions. The effect upon their mathematical success ofvarious types of illustration and the varying relations ofthese illustrations to the text was analysed. Work from smaller sample groups was then examined to investigate whether those with a low' reading age were further compromised by the misleading illustrations. In addition, the mathematical work ofeighty-one children was examined in relation to their learning styles. Nine children were questioned as they examined the previous mathematical work ofother children and their comments about how other children might approach mathematical problems provided a greater understanding ofhow children might become misled by illustrations. The overall findings of the study indicate that children ofthis age may still be reliant on using illustrations to comprehend mathematical questions. Therefore in their calculations some children may be compromised in their mathematics success ifthe illustration does not support the question but instead in some way contradicts its intentions. This means that designers and teachers need to be greater aware of the influence illustrations have beyond that of motivation or decoration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available