Ensuring that pupils are fully numerate has significant benefits on an individual’s potential in life and on the development of Wales as a nation. However, research has shown that numeracy standards in schools in Wales are below expectations and on average our pupils are behind those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with regard to numeracy. Consequently, now more than ever, is the need for the development of high quality teaching and learning strategies for numeracy. This inquiry investigated the impact of implementing group work tasks in the mathematics classroom on the academic and social outcomes for a group of learners.
The inquiry aimed to develop a pupil-centred learning environment and enhance pupil resilience through delivering high quality, numerical reasoning tasks and facilitating opportunities for social interaction with a focus on problem solving. Thirty male and female year 8 pupils participated in a 4 week group work intervention within mathematics lessons to monitor the ways in which they engaged in groups with problem solving tasks.
Action research using multiple data collection methods revealed that implementing this style of learning environment can foster several holistic benefits for teaching and learning, including increased engagement and ownership of learning. Pupil voice strongly indicated that group work increased pupils’ confidence in tackling numerical reasoning questions, promoted opportunities for communication development and supported pupils in breaking down ‘wordy’ questions. However, findings also provided support for learner’s preference for paired work when faced with challenging problems to solve. These findings have valuable implications for teachers in relation to the strategies and learning situations that they foster within the classroom to encourage numerical reasoning development. As teachers we need to continue striving to provide all pupils with high quality opportunities to engage with and achieve in numeracy in school and in everyday life.
© Steph Bell January 2016