By Ms Masura Ghani and Ms Kumutha Krisnan, Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice
Dr Koay Phong Lee sharing some of the terms related to difficulties faced
by low attainers in learning mathematics
On 16 November 2011, about 300 participants, consisting of primary school Math teachers, MOE personnel and NIE staff convened at the National Institute of Education to hear the findings of the project "An Exploratory Study on Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics" by Professor Berinderjeet Kaur and Dr Koay Phong Lee from the Mathematics and Mathematics Education Academic Group.
The impetus for this project has been the strong concern among school leaders about the growing proportion of low attainers in primary mathematics.
At the seminar, Dr Koay first shared about the content knowledge of the pupils who participated in the project and demonstrated some hands-on tasks the teachers could do with their pupils. The principal investigator Prof Kaur then discussed the findings on the affective aspect and learning experiences of low attainers.
During the project, the schools and teachers used a variety of approaches to address the diverse learning needs of these pupils and to motivate them in their learning.
But a key observation was the lack of attention paid by pupils in class. As a result, they experienced difficulties with their assignments. In particular, they found word problems very challenging. There appears to be a mismatch between how pupils want to learn and how teachers are teaching them.
|Prof Berinderjeet Kaur welcoming the
participants to the Seminar
|Participants at the Seminar|
Most participants found the seminar informative and gained them new insights about low attainers. They suggested follow-up training sessions for teachers, classroom interventions and to develop resources for the pupils.
One of the participants commented: "It was a 16- to 20-hour workshop for learning support teachers, sharing by participating teachers, development of potential activities to engage the pupils. The seminar has been interesting and informative."
Another participant said: "More training and ideas on how to teach our kids was shared. All of us will definitely be grateful."
The seminar also saw the launch of Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics, published by World Scientific. All participants received a complimentary copy of the book, which serves as a useful resource for teachers and graduate students working with low attainers in primary mathematics.