# Preferred contexts for mathematical literacy of Korean grade 8 - 10 learners

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## Date

2006

## Authors

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## Publisher

University of the Western Cape

## Abstract

The twenty-first century society demands a high level of mathematical literacy. This drove
Korean educators to evaluate their students using international mathematics tests such as
TIMSS, PISA and IMO. In these tests, Korean students ranked highly among the participating
countries. Korean students, however, had done poorly in the application of mathematics in
daily life situations as well as in their interest in mathematics in co~parison to those of other
countries. Based on these observations, the present study is an investigation on the contexts
which Korean grade 8 to 10 students would prefer to deal with mathematics, in order to
improve these weak points and thus increase their mathematical power.
The aim of this study was thus to investigate mathematical literacy in connection with the
relevance of mathematics and mathematical modelling. The study pays more attention to
mathematics education 111 real life situations. Data was collected using the ROSME
questionnaire that deals with contexts preferred by students for mathematics education.
A sample made up of over 1600 learners in grades 8 to 10 were randomly selected from 21
schools. Data collected from these learners was analysed using Kendall's W mean rank
method in the SPSS 12.0 program since the data for this study were ordinal.
The most important finding of this study was that, "Mathematics that entertains and surprises
us" came up the highest ranked item. This indicates that mathematics education must be
directed towards raising learners' interests. The lowest ranked item was, "Mathematics used to
calculate the number of seats for parliament given to political parties after elections," and this
might indicate among other things that political activity does not attract students' interest in a
society where the concept of well-being is dominant. In general, Korean learners appear to
favour learning mathematics in technological contexts and show less interest in political and
agricultural contexts.
In conclusion, this study suggests that teachers should use contexts that increase learners'
interest in classroom activities. Korea has today become one of the strongest Information
Technology countries. Therefore mathematics curricula and textbooks which are appropriate
to this context must be provided for more efficient mathematics education. Thus, it becomes
imperative that the Korean school system must develop a particular program for nurturing
learners' mathematical power. Furthermore, mathematics education policy makers must
reconsider whether the current education system, Pyungjunhwa Kyoyuk system, should be
used or not.

## Description

Magister Educationis - MEd

## Keywords

Mathematical Literacy, Contexts in Mathematics, Mathematical Modelling, Relevance of Mathematics, Learner's interest in Mathematics, ROSME XII