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Experiencing mathematics classes: ability grouping, gender and the selective development of participative identities

Solomon, Yvette (2007) Experiencing mathematics classes: ability grouping, gender and the selective development of participative identities. ISSN 0883-0355

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Abstract

Mathematics education reform emphasises the need to move away from transmission models of teaching to discursive classroom practices in which students negotiate and justify solutions to problems. This shift has potential, but not inevitable, implications for students’ mathematical identities with respect to their sense of ownership and participation in mathematics as a creative activity, and is particularly pertinent in the UK context where ability grouping is prevalent. This paper presents an analysis of 13–15-year-old British pupils’ accounts of learning and doing mathematics, and shows that the pedagogic practices of ability grouping do indeed play a major part in the development of participatory identities for some pupils but not for others. The data also show that learning is more than participation: it is also dependent on the discursive positions that individual pupils take up. The paper theorises further about the role of self-positioning in the development of individual mathematics identity trajectories.

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