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To halve a fraction: An issue for second language learners
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5609-0752
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
2017 (English)In: Education Inquiry, ISSN 2000-4508, E-ISSN 2000-4508, Vol. 8, no 3, 173-191 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present study investigated test responses from 259 immigrant and non-immigrant school year 9 students in Sweden with the focus on how they solved two problems on fractions, one of them halving a fraction, in a test. The authors report three observations. Newly arrived second language immigrants seemed less likely to have the word ‘half’ in their Swedish mathematical vocabulary. Moreover, second language learners with longer experience of the new language connected the word ‘half’ with a division by two, but showed mathematical difficulties in correctly applying it to a fraction. A third finding was that the longer the experiences with Swedish school mathematics, the more likely both first and second language learners were to erroneously omit the percentage symbol, when choosing to use percentage representation of the fraction given in the test problem. The authors suggest seeing newly and early arrived second language immigrants as meeting different challenges. The newly arrived second language immigrants may know some mathematical concepts better and Swedish language less. In contrast the opposite seems to hold for second language learners with longer experience of the language of instruction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 8, no 3, 173-191 p.
Keyword [en]
Learning mathematics in a second language, mathematics, rational numbers, secondary level, student assessment
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-138976DOI: 10.1080/20004508.2016.1275187OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-138976DiVA: diva2:1070046
Available from: 2017-01-31 Created: 2017-01-31 Last updated: 2017-10-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Mathematics achievement of early and newly immigrated students in different topics of mathematics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Mathematics achievement of early and newly immigrated students in different topics of mathematics
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to explore the mathematics achievement of second language immigrants in compulsory school as they continue their schooling in Sweden. Specifically, the thesis aims to generate more knowledge about different sub-categories of second language students, namely newly arrived immigrants, early arrived immigrants and other second language students in compulsory school. The data in this thesis consists of students’ responses to test items and thus mainly contains mathematical symbols, essentially numbers in different representations, written by the students.

Doing so, this thesis problematizes the concept of second language students in mathematics in two aspects. One aspect is to assess the first and second language students’ achievement in different mathematical content domains, instead of only assessing the total achievement. Another aspect is to see the second language students as different sub-categories of second language students.

Papers I and II of this thesis found that the achievement difference between first and second language students is not homogeneous. Instead the achievement difference between first and second language students is larger for concepts that are rare in mathematics textbooks. Moreover, the achievement difference between first and second language students varies with the content domain. Another way to say this is that first and second language students have different achievement profiles.

Papers III and IV of this thesis explored how sub-categories of second language students achieved on mathematics test items. Mathematics achievement studies on second language students often classify the second language students into a single category of students. Methodologically this imposes a concept of viewing second language students as homogeneous in proficiency in the language of instruction. This view is challenged in this thesis by dividing the second language students into newly arrived immigrants, early arrived immigrants and other second language students. These three sub-categories have different proficiency in Swedish language due to how long they have lived in Sweden. Papers III and IV found that these student categories both had different test achievement and, related to this, also used mathematical concept representations differently. In particular, the newly and early arrived immigrants seemed to experience on average different challenges during mathematics testing. The newly arrived students seemed more challenged with terminology but less with the mathematical content while the opposite seemed to hold for the early arrived students. An implication for teaching is that particularly early arrived second language children seem to be in urgent need of support in mathematical concept building from first day of schooling in the new country.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, 2017. 144 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis from the department of mathematics and science education, 15
Keyword
achievement profile, grade 9, mathematics achievement, mathematics education, second language learners, statistics literacy, student as-sessment
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-140641 (URN)978-91-7649-714-2 (ISBN)978-91-7649-715-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-04-27, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: In press. Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-04-04 Created: 2017-03-13 Last updated: 2017-04-25Bibliographically approved

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