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Title: Transition to university mathematical discourses : a commognitive analysis of first year examination tasks, lecturers' perspectives on assessment and students' examination scripts
Author: Thoma, Athina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 221X
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis addresses the transition from secondary school to university mathematics at the setting of closed book examinations. I chose a first-year undergraduate module on Sets, Numbers and Probability, given its transitional nature from school to university mathematics; and, its coverage of a variety of mathematical topics. The data of the study includes lecture notes; worksheets and exercise sheets; six examination tasks; interviews with the two lecturers who posed the tasks and their solutions to these; and, twenty-two students' examination scripts. I use Sfard's (2008) theory of commognition to analyse the examination tasks, lecturers' interviews, and students' scripts. Specifically, an adaptation of Morgan and Sfard's (2016) analytical framework enriched by a category regarding students' solutions is used. The adapted analytical framework is applied to the tasks and student data focusing on: word and visual mediator use; engagement with routines; and, participation in varying mathematical discourses. In the lecturer data, I concentrate on lecturers' assessment practices aimed at students' engagement with the university mathematics discourse. The analysis of the lecturers' interviews and examination tasks revealed: directions on the procedure of mathematical routines and the expectations of what constitutes a sufficient student response; the gradual structure of tasks; students' enculturation in the mathematical community (e.g., defining, proving, justifying). Findings suggest that lecturers, through their experience in marking students' scripts in coursework and examinations, seem to design the tasks with awareness of students' difficulties and aim to assist them in a smooth transition between the different mathematical discourses. However, the analysis of students' scripts shows evidence of commognitive conflicts between school and university mathematical discourses or different mathematical discourses at the university level. Especially, I report cases concerning conflation of different discourses (e.g., Set Theory and Probability or algebra) which is visible in students' use of suitable visual mediators and their engagement with the routines. This insight into students' transitions suggests that explicit attention needs to be given in the transitions between these discourses during the teaching period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available