Aspects of Engaging Problem Contexts From Students' PerspectivesTamara Kay Gandolph StarkDepartment of Mathematics Education, BYUMaster of ArtsToo many students have negative feelings towards mathematics which is causing them to disengage in their classrooms. This has led to student under-achievement. This study attempts to better understand how teachers can help students to reengage with mathematics by using more engaging contexts to develop mathematical content. The study began with the characteristics realistic, worthwhile, enjoyable or motivating as a framework for posing engaging problem contexts, which were synthesized from the current research literature. As students discussed what made contexts engaging, my understanding of what engaging problem contexts looked like expanded. The characteristics realistic and worthwhile were combined. Students felt contexts were more realistic and worthwhile when the contexts were authentic, purposeful and related to their everyday lives or a potential career situation. Furthermore, students felt context was enjoyable when it was interactive or included a good story. Finally, students discussed their frustration with repetition within problem contexts. Even if certain types of problems were engaging at first, if they saw them over and over again, they became unengaged. Students wanted to see a variety of new ideas and different kinds of contexts. This study better informs teachers and curriculum writers on what to include/exclude to make contexts more engaging for students.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Mathematics Education



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Engaging problem context, realistic, worthwhile, enjoyable, motivating, variety