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Opportunities and Challenges when Students Work with Vocationally Connected Mathematics Tasks

Trude Pedersen Sundtjønn of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled “Opportunities and Challenges when Students Work with Vocationally Connected Mathematics Tasks” and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Thursday 4 March 2021. (Photo: Private)

The implications of this study are that vocationally connected tasks have the potential to generate disturbances in classroom norms, which can then create opportunities to loosen up or change traditional interaction patterns and make space for discussions of what mathematics is in different practices.

Trude Pedersen Sundtjønn

PhD Candidate

The disputation will be held digitally, because of the Corona covid-19-situation. Spectators may follow the disputation digitally – link is available below.

 

Trude Pedersen Sundtjønn of the Faculty of Engineering and Science at the University of Agder has submitted her thesis entitled Opportunities and Challenges when Students Work with Vocationally Connected Mathematics Tasks” and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Thursday 4 March 2021.

She has followed the PhD-programme at the Faculty of Engineering and Science with Spesialisation in Mathematics Education.

Summary of the Thesis by Trude Sundtjønn:

Opportunities and Challenges when Students Work with Vocationally Connected Mathematics Tasks

Students in vocational education in Norway take a compulsory mathematics course in their first year. This course offers opportunities for engaging with mathematics which can be highly relevant to practice in many workplaces.

Connecting future vocations and mathematics

Working with vocationally connected mathematics tasks, tasks designed to draw on students’ future working contexts, is one way of trying to connect to students’ possible future vocations.

In this study, I observed students working with specially designed vocationally connected mathematics tasks in three different vocational education programmes in Norway: Design and Crafts, Media and Communication, and Technical and Industrial Production. The tasks were designed in collaboration with their mathematics teacher.

I wanted to find out how the students interact with such tasks in the mathematics lessons, and how the students themselves expresses connections between mathematics and the workplace.

I collected video recordings, field notes and interview data while the students worked on vocationally connected mathematics tasks.

From classroom to vocational relevance

The students are experienced as participants in mathematical classrooms but are still newcomers in their future vocational practice. This study aims to understand how students interact with such tasks with a particular emphasis on the roles of norms, authenticity and students’ positioning between the practices of school, the workplace and everyday life.

My key findings are that vocationally connected tasks enabled students to draw on routines and knowledge from the relevant vocational practice, and that this led to shifts in student and teacher roles in terms of who was regarded as an expert in the classroom.

It was the students who knew how the task would have been solved in practice, and what accuracy was needed.

However, the norms of traditional classroom mathematics continued to dominate, leading to fluctuations in norms as students positioned themselves between the practices of school, the workplace and everyday life.

Consequently, even though students might identify authentic aspects in the tasks, they often disregarded routines and knowledge from out-of-school practice if these disrupted the solution strategies common to classroom practice. As one student said: "we will not have this job for real, so it will be fine!’’ when the students discovered that they had made a mistake while the planned a budget for a hair salon.

The implications of this study are that vocationally connected tasks have the potential to generate disturbances in classroom norms, which can then create opportunities to loosen up or change traditional interaction patterns and make space for discussions of what mathematics is in different practices.

What to do as an audience member:

The disputation is open to the public, but to follow the trial lecture and the public defence, which is transmitted via the Zoom conferencing app, you have to register as an audience member.

We ask audience members to join the virtual trial lecture at 10:20 at the earliest and the public defense at 12:20 at the earliest. After these times, you can leave and rejoin the meeting at any time. Further, we ask audience members to turn off their microphone and camera and keep them turned off throughout the event. You do this at the bottom left of the image when in Zoom. We recommend you use ‘Speaker view’. You select that at the top right corner of the video window when in Zoom.

Opponent ex auditorio:

The chair invites members of the public to pose questions ex auditorio in the introduction to the public defense, with deadlines. Questions can be submitted to the chair, Ingvald Erfjord on e-mail ingvald.erfjord@uia.no

Disputation facts:

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place online, via the Zoom conferencing app (link below)

Head of Department Ingvald Erfjord, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of  Engineering and Science, University of Agder, will chair the disputation.

Trial lecture at 10:30 hours
Public defense at 12:30 hours

Given topic for trial lecture: “Recent international research on teacher education/professional development regarding the teaching of mathematics in vocational streams, adult education and at workplaces”

Thesis Title: «Opportunities and Challenges when Students Work with Vocationally Connected Mathematics Tasks»

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder.

The thesis is available here:

https://hdl.handle.net/11250/2727570

 

The CandidateTrude Pedersen Sundtjønn (1984 Oslo, grown up in Kristiansand). Bachelors degree in Mathematics, UiA (2006), Masters degree in Mathematics NTNU (2008), and Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) (2009). Nutrition, Food and Culture, One-Year Programme, UiA (2010). Working as a teacher in Mathematics in High School, and as a teacher educator in Mathematics both at UiA and at Oslo Met university. Present position as a Assistant Professor at the Department of Primary and Secondary Teacher Education (GFU) at Oslo Met University.

Opponents:

First opponent: Professor emeritus Dr. Rudolf StraesserJustus Liebig Universität, Giessen, Germany

Second opponent: Associate Professor Thomas Lingefjärd, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Professor Pauline Vos, Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

Supervisors were Associate Professor Per Sigurd Hundeland, UiA (main supervisor) and Professor Yvette Solomon, OsloMet (co-supervisor). Professor Anne Berit Fuglestad, UiA, were main supervisor until she passed away in  2018.