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Title: The relevance of role play to the learning of mathematics in the primary classroom
Author: Williams, Helen J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 0495
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis reports on an investigation into the relevance of role play to the learning of mathematics. It is a case study of one Reception and one Year Four class during the academic year 2011-2012, where role play was used for children to explore mathematics that ‘made human sense’ (Donaldson 1978). This study is grounded in social constructivist theories of learning, seen as the product of interaction amongst members of communities. It starts from the theoretical perspective of play being a key medium for children’s learning, drawing on a body of literature positively linking play to young children’s development. It takes the view from accumulating educational research, that discussion and social interaction are significant in learning mathematics and that learners’ mathematical identities affect their engagement. The following questions were posed in this study: • What mathematics can be learned through role play? • What does mathematics learning look like in different role play contexts? • To what extent might role play affect the development of mathematical resilience, involvement and a positive attitude to the subject? • What particular classroom conditions positively affect mathematics learning through role play? • What adult intervention helps or hinders? Ontologically, this study considers participants’ interactions and behaviours and their interpretations of these, as central to a situation. In order to address these questions and reflect my views on knowledge, a qualitative, interpretative methodology was adopted for this study. The findings suggest that role play is useful for mathematical learning and that it is possible to engage in complex mathematics through role play. I argue that the potency of role play is its ability to suspend disbelief and engage children as participants in a community of learners. This study also concludes there is potential for developing children’s mathematical awareness and metacognition through reflecting on role play. Whilst the importance of reflection on learning is well established, how a child learns about themselves as a mathematician is under-researched. This study begins to consider this issue.
Supervisor: Crozier, Gill ; Gifford, Susan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available