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Title: Workplace mathematics : a study of mathematics in use in the UK Assurance Division of an international accounting firm
Author: Dawes, Margaret M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2711 9693
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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This study aims primarily to show how mathematics is actually performed in everyday work. It is set in the UK assurance division of an international accounting firm. The study's epistemological foundations are derived from Wittgenstein's views on rule governed practice. It comprised observing ten principal participants, accountants and an administrative assistant, at work in eleven extended observations. Lave's theory of situated cognition, Hutchins' distributed cognition framework and textual analysis were mainly used to analyse data. Luhmann's system theory underpins a distinction made between mathematics of the discipline of mathematics and that used in everyday work. It also provides a framework for dealing with complexity. A definition of workplace mathematics is grounded in participants' practices, following Nunes et al. 's definition of street mathematics. The complex picture observed is reported through case studies of telling episodes. Participants' actions were substantially determined by the tasks undertaken and surrounding contexts, but their extant knowledge and skills were also critical to competent performance. The mathematics used was embedded in the tasks/texts and, through analysis, is rendered explicit. Generally no mathematics beyond that studied in the higher tier GCSE mathematics was required. Nevertheless it was used with considerable sophistication. The findings describe " the mathematicsu sed, " the extensive and varied ways in which it was used, and " some of the factors that contribute to competent/expert performance, including collaboration and teamwork, and on the job learning and innovation. Two additional critical findings, which are derived from theoretical considerations and observation, are: " how we come to do and to know is dependent upon teaching, coaching and induction into practice; and " an individual's understanding, knowledge and skill in workplace mathematics is achieved through the practice of engaging in work. Although the findings are situationally specific, continuities in practice across individuals and situations observed, and findings reported in other studies enable tentative suggestions to be made about functional mathematics curricula
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available