Viewing basic math through the lens of history: Undergraduates’ reflective learning in a history-augmented mathematics classroom
This study is aimed at determining first-year university students’ reflections when Fibonacci tiling, the ancient Chinese fang cheng procedures, and the ancient Indian meru prastara recursions were introduced as historical snippets in an adventure pedagogy for basic mathematics. Seventy-eight first-year students enrolled in a course in basic mathematics at a University in North Central Nigeria provided composite self-reports in an action research paradigm, describing their reflective learning after exposure to the historical snippets. Qualitative data reduction strategies were used to explore the students’ reflections and progress in the course. The results of the study revealed that the introduction of the historical snippets aids in concretizing of concepts, spurring of behavioural engagement in learners, adding of aesthetic value to mathematics, sustaining of students attention, computational ease and effective recall of mathematical procedures. The activities of the cultural and historical augmentation were reported by participants as plays that accomplish real mathematical tasks. The outcome of this study has strengthened the belief that the history-as-a-tool style of mathematics instruction stimulates curiosity and sustains interest in students while establishing meaningful relationships between abstract ideas and practical applications in the context of the real world.
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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015