Original Research

Development of affective modelling competencies in primary school learners

Piera Biccard, Dirk Wessels
Pythagoras | Vol 32, No 1 | a20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v32i1.20 | © 2011 Piera Biccard, Dirk Wessels | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 July 2011 | Published: 14 September 2011

About the author(s)

Piera Biccard, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Dirk Wessels, Stellenbosch University


Learner affect and beliefs about mathematics are complex and multifaceted aspects of mathematical learning. Traditional teaching and learning approaches in mathematics education often result in problematic beliefs about mathematics. Since beliefs influence what learners learn and how they deal with learning mathematics, it is essential that the roles of beliefs and affect in mathematics classrooms are carefully examined. In solving modelling problems, learners and teachers take on new roles in the classroom: learners are placed in an active, self-directing situation in which they solve real-world problems. When learners engage in modelling tasks, they display and integrate cognitive, meta-cognitive and affective competencies. A modelling approach therefore allows one to detect learner beliefs in an authentic learning environment. Will this environment lead to students having more positive and productive dispositions towards mathematics? This article presents partial results of a study documenting the development of modelling competencies in learners working in groups over a period of 12 weeks. Through a design research approach, 12 learners working in groups solved three modelling problems, and transcriptions of learner interactions, questionnaires and informal interviews revealed that learner beliefs improved over this short period when exposed to modelling tasks. The results are encouraging, and may provide mathematics education with an avenue to develop more positive learner beliefs in mathematics.


transforming learner beliefs; collaborative learning; real-life problems; authentic learning environment


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