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Learning Process Assignment: How to Make Mathematics More Practical in Grade 5?


Prepare a learning process assignment presenting a research proposal on the topic: how to make mathematics more practical in grade 5?


1. Introduction to learning process assignment

Mathematics is considered vital for developing cognitive ability and analytical skills in children, which will also increase their special awareness and help in solving critical problems. The concept of mathematics will also enhance the ability of using measures and shapes which will generate practical quickening of the mind in children. Moreover, learning mathematics enables children to understand patterns, make comparisons, sorting analysis and recognising shapes (Hung, Huang & Hwang, 2014). It has been suggested through various significant studies that increasing the ability to do maths in children from an early age yield beneficial results. This proposal is an action research project that I intend to do regarding how to make mathematics more practical for grade 5 children as a teacher researcher. This research will help me in improving the teaching methods of mathematics to children in grade 5 and increase their interest in the subject. In this proposal I will be undertaking a literature review, define action research, explain why I want to do emancipatory action research, clarify ,by data capturing methods, clarify ethical issues, give four lessons and conclude with a proposal timeline.

2. Literature Review

A literature is a survey and review of several external works related to the area of focus of the project that are selected by the learner to critically review and an extensive exploration of the works related to the topic. 

As per the views stated by C?prioar? (2015), the application of mathematics in the real world for solving significant problems is profound which requires children to learn the subject from an early age. The concept of contextualisation and re-contextualisation should be focused on by teachers at middle school for enabling a meaningful, interesting and sustainable learning of the subject. It should be taken into consideration by the teachers, how much importance the children are placing in solving mathematical problems, the type of problem they prefer to solve, and the performance level acquired by them. The ability to solve problems is considered to be an important knowledge because it displays the positive working of the mind during complex situations and intellectual progress. It has been observed by the author from an experiment consisting of 300 student of age 14-16 years that about 32.24% students solved a given math problem within time, 33.88% students solved it incorrectly, 33.88% did not approach the given problem and only 18.18% students completed the problem with correct answers. This gave the inference that students at middle school prefer solving math problem using algorithmic methods. 

According to García, Rodriguez, Betts, Areces & González-Castro (2016), in middle school, the approaches and motivation towards mathematics is the key to learning the subject in an interesting manner. The authors have stated that components which are affective-motivational in nature are not sufficient for building an interest towards the subject. Instead, teachers should try to explain the value of understanding and learning the subject with intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy. Moreover, it is also emphasized that by overcoming the anxiety related to mathematics, the subject will seem more interesting and enjoyable for middle school students. The teachers should also focus on making the students understand the perceived usefulness and practical application of the subject that will instigate interest in them regarding it. 

Barner et. al. (2016), was of the opinion that using mental abacus to develop the ability to do mathematics in children from a young age will yield beneficial results in the long run. It is a physical manipulative design that will enable children to do mental maths faster and without any hindrance that will generate interest in them to do maths. This form of non-linguistic approach to solve math problems develops the cognitive abilities in children and helps them to solve math problems correctly within the stipulated period of time. The regions of the brain which are associated with visual and spatial working of the mind are enhanced with the knowledge and application of abacus in solving math problems that will help in building interests in children regarding the subject. The basic cognitive abilities such as the development of critical thinking, imagery, working memory and ability to be attentive are developed in children at an early with the application of abacus in doing mathematics. The authors have observed through an experiment that divided the sample size of 204 into two groups one the focus groups and the other the control group. The results that were obtained showed that children using abacus to solve math problems used lesser time to get the correct solution as compared to children who did not. 

Collaborative learning and worked examples have demonstrated the building of interest in mathematics by children at an early age. The authors Retnowati, Ayres & Sweller (2017) have stated that interest regarding a particular subject is possible to develop through worked examples and solutions as compared to the conventional method of teaching for novice learners. The cognitive load theory is applied in making novice learners teach about subjects such as mathematics which suggests that the most effective manner of obtaining and retaining new information by the human mind is directly receiving it from another individual. This is why the worked example method is considered to be effective for interesting learning of a subject and retaining it in the long run. Similarly, collaborative learning enables students to learn a subject faster as compared to individual study. The social constructive theory is used to explain the benefits of this method which states that constructive knowledge is gained by students through social interactions. 

3. Definition of Action Research

During uncertainty of future regarding a particular field, action research or emancipatory action research is conducted which is considered to be a powerful tool that supports the observations (Coghlan, 2019). This concept was first used by Kurt Lewin who undertook a study to change the life of disadvantaged and socially backward classes regarding their employment, housing, social status, prejudice and formal training. However, in 1975, Stenhouse who considered the teaching profession as a process of enlightening the mind which emphasized on the individual’s education level before providing knowledge to others. His idea was that in order to contribute to the development of an individual or student, teachers have to become researchers that will help them to attain a critical perspective regarding a particular subject and make it more interesting for children. This form of research is considered to be a process that will free the mind of teachers from socialisation and help develop a different perspective towards teaching something (McNiff, 2016). 

A critical research which is also participatory, collaborative, contextual and emancipatory in nature is known as action research. This type of research also helps in focusing of the action learning of a subject through the concept of “learning by doing”. Generally, this form of research is undertaken to improve a stipulated process, evaluate the possible outcomes and if possible then carry out the research again to enable better development of the process. Different sectors of the academic world undertake the usage of action research for developing interests in students regarding a subject that will help in building certain skills in them (Herr & Anderson, 2014). Several formal organisations also encourage the use of action research for developing a particular area that will help in problem solving and critical situational analysis. The fundamental focus of undertaking an action research is that it turns people into researchers that will enable them to develop and gain more useful practical knowledge for their own benefit by converting them int active participants of the process. This will help define their social responsibility towards a large group of people and help in undertaking practical situations to solve problems. Therefore, action research has certain unique benefits that is different from regular research. 

4. Why Emancipatory Action Research

With the changing policies of imparting and gaining knowledge, the demand to be more creative and enhance the ways of critical thinking is persisting in the academic world. If the teachers are not encouraged to undertake research for developing the interests in students regarding a particular subject, then it is not possible to overcome the need for critical thinkers within the society. It will lead to subverting the national aspirations in a modern society who are displaying promising skills regarding particular areas (Esau, 2013). Higher education is always related to developing interests within students at an early and recognising their personal inclination towards chosen subjects. This can be done by teachers only if they undertake emancipatory action research in presenting their subjects in an interesting manner that will help learners to identify their inclination from a young age. Such kind of research will also enable build cognitive autonomy in a student that will help him to focus in his area of interest and build it from a young age. 

Furthermore, it has been seen that since emancipatory action research is a participatory process, undertaking such research by teachers will help them to identify the individual abilities in children from a young age. Besides, this type of research helps in developing a social responsibility in individuals undertaking (Glanz, 2014). This in turn will enable them to improve the practices regarding their profession to create value in the society considering the ethical implications. For instance, if the teacher is able to create interest in students of grade 5 regarding mathematics by mitigating their fear of dealing numbers and explaining the practical use of the subject, then it will benefit the students in the long run through the development of cognitive abilities. 

5. Possible Lessons of Activities

Mathematics is regarded as an interesting subject which can be made practical for students in grade 5 by following the possible lessons or activities stated below: -

  1. Board Games: Playing certain board games, for instance the ‘headline game’, ‘girl dressed in red stalked by wolf’ and so on can help make math interesting for Grade 5.
  2. Screen Games: Certain screen games using technology that are specially designed for generating an inclination in children towards mathematics can be useful (Warshauer, 2014).
  3. Using Colours: Using different colours and chart papers to solve problems in class can be an interesting activity for children in grade 5.
  4. Using Abacus: Using the technique of abacus to enhance the ability to do mental math correctly can be lucrative idea to make the subject more interesting (Bailey, Siegler & Geary, 2014). 

6. Conclusion

Mathematics is such a subject that can be made interesting through a lot of attractive activities and games conducting by the teacher. This proposal if accepted, I plan to put in action during my teaching practice. I believe that this small action research project in my grade 5 mathematics classroom can contribute to building social cohesion towards building a better society by creating value. This is also emphasized by the view that the classroom can be seen as a miniature of the society. 


Bailey, D. H., Siegler, R. S., & Geary, D. C. (2014). Early predictors of middle school fraction knowledge. Developmental science17(5), 775-785.

Barner, D., Alvarez, G., Sullivan, J., Brooks, N., Srinivasan, M., & Frank, M. C. (2016). Learning mathematics in a visuospatial format: A randomized, controlled trial of mental abacus instruction. Child Development87(4), 1146-1158.

C?prioar?, D. (2015). Problem solving-purpose and means of learning mathematics in school. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences191, 1859-1864.

Coghlan, D. (2019). Doing action research in your own organization. SAGE Publications Limited.

Esau, O. (2013). Preparing pre-service teachers as emancipatory and participatory action researchers in a teacher education programme. Learning process assignment South African Journal of Education33(4), 1-10.

García, T., Rodriguez, C., Betts, L., Areces, D., & González-Castro, P. (2016). How affective-motivational variables and approaches to learning predict mathematics achievement in upper elementary levels. Learning and Individual Differences49, 25-31.

Glanz, J. (2014). Action research: An educational leader's guide to school improvement. Rowman & Littlefield.

Herr, K., & Anderson, G. L. (2014). The action research dissertation: A guide for students and faculty. Sage publications.

Hung, C. M., Huang, I., & Hwang, G. J. (2014). Effects of digital game-based learning on students’ self-efficacy, motivation, anxiety, and achievements in learning mathematics. Journal of Computers in Education1(2-3), 151-166.

McNiff, J. (2016). You and your action research project. Routledge.

Retnowati, E., Ayres, P., & Sweller, J. (2017). Can collaborative learning improve the effectiveness of worked examples in learning mathematics?. Journal of educational psychology109(5), 666.

Warshauer, H. K. (2014). Productive struggle in teaching and learning middle school mathematics. Journal of Mathematics Education17(4), 3-28.


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