Turning inquiry experiences into robust learning: Exploring the potential of structured mathematics learning sequences

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The rationale for this research is that it is important for students to learn mathematics, but currently too many miss out on the opportunities that successful learning creates. While it is possible for everyone to learn mathematics, it takes concentration and effort over an extended period of time to build the connections between topics, to understand the coherence of mathematical ideas and to be able to transfer learning to practical contexts and new topics.

Rather than the common approach to teaching mathematics when students are shown what to do, which they subsequently practice (if they can remember what they were shown), this research assumes that students learn better when they engage with appropriately challenging tasks prior to teacher instruction. Connected to this is that students benefit when they persist, which includes them concentrating, applying themselves, believing that they can succeed and making an effort to learn. The tasks and lessons that are likely to foster such actions are termed challenging, in that they allow the possibility of sustained thinking, decision-making, and some risk taking by students.

The aim of the research is to explore the impact of suggested sequences of learning experiences on student learning and teacher knowledge of mathematics and pedagogy. It is hoped to make recommendations for future curriculums, for task design and for teacher professional learning.