Teaching fractions to adult learners enrolled in a civil construction course : knowledge, action and materials action in tandem
Keywords130208 Mathematics and Numeracy Curriculum and Pedagogy
130301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education
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AbstractThis paper investigates the teaching and learning of fractions to Indigenous adult learners in a Civil Construction Certificate Course. More specifically it explores why the use of materials is critical to building knowledge and understanding. This focus is important for two reasons. First, it allows for considerations of a trainer’s approach for teaching fractions and, second it provides insights into how adult learners can be supported with representing their practical experiences of fractions to make generalisation thus building on their knowledge and learning experiences. The paper draws on teaching episodes from an Australian Research Council funded Linkage project that investigates how mathematics is taught and learned in Certificate Courses, here, Certificate 11 in Civil Construction. Action research and decolonising methods (Smith, 1999) were used to conduct the research. Video excerpts which feature one trainer and three students are analysed and described. Findings from the data indicate that adult learners need to be supported with materials to assist with building their capacity to know and apply understandings of fractions in a range of contexts, besides construction. Without materials and where fractions are taught via pen and paper tasks, students are less likely to retain and apply fraction ideas to their Certificate Course. Further they are less likely to understand decimals because of limited understanding of fractions.