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Words or Pictures? Comparing a Visual and a Verbal Approach to some Year 7 Mathematics

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Pamela Woolner


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How do people come to understand mathematics? It seemed to me, as a learner and then as a teacher of the subject, to be the big question underlying all other queries about what should go on in the classroom. That being the case, though, it’s obviously not going to be answerable in a straight forward way. However, it might be possible to chip away at it by focusing on a particular issue in the area of mathematical understanding. It soon becomes evident when teaching that people can think in very different ways about the same subject matter: the explanation or demonstration that is illuminating for one student seems only to confuse another. One stark difference between individuals is the degree to which they appear to think with images, finding diagrams and pictures more useful than explanations in words.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Woolner P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Mathematics in School

Year: 2004

Volume: 33

Issue: 1

Pages: 18-22

Print publication date: 01/01/2004

ISSN (electronic): 0305-7259

URL: .The Mathematical Association

Notes: A report of doctoral research considering the use of visual representation in the teaching of secondary school level mathematics. It intends to disseminate to teachers, in an appropriate manner, both the results of the research and the wider issues involved in the representation of information for teaching and assessment purposes.