Contextual Teaching & Learning in Mathematics: RATIONALE

 

The goals of contextual teaching and learning are to provide students with flexible knowledge that transfers from one problem to another and from one context to another.  These goals will be achieved through contextual teaching and learning by embedding lessons within meaningful contexts.  We believe this will result in deeper foundational knowledge. Also, learners will have a richer understanding of the problem and the ways to solve the problem. They will be able to independently use their knowledge to solve new and unfamiliar problems.  They will take more responsibility for their own learning as they gain experience and knowledge.

The importance of context in mathematics education is also emphasized in Principles and Standards for School Mathematics by The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

"The opportunity for students to experience mathematics in a context is important. Mathematics is used in science, the social sciences, medicine, and commerce. The link between mathematics and science is not only through content but also through process. The processes and content of science can inspire an approach to solving problems that applies to the study of mathematics (NCTM, 2000, p. 65)."

"The most important connection for early mathematics development is between the intuitive, informal mathematics that students have learned through their own experiences and the mathematics they are learning in school. All other connections—between one mathematical concept and another, between different mathematics topics, between mathematics and other fields of knowledge, and between mathematics and everyday life—are supported by the link between the students' informal experiences and more-formal mathematics. Students' abilities to experience mathematics as a meaningful endeavor that makes sense rests on these connections (NCTM, 2000, p. 65, p. 131)."

"Instructional programs from prekindergarden through grade 12 should enable all students to—

    recognize and use connections among mathematical ideas;

    understand how mathematical ideas interconnect and build on one another to produce a coherent whole;

    recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics (NCTM, 2000, p. 65, p. 199)."

"Real-world contexts provide opportunities for students to connect what they are learning to their own environment. Students' experiences at home, at school, and in their community provide contexts for worthwhile mathematical tasks

(NCTM, 2000, p. 65, p. 200)."


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The Department of Mathematics Education
University of Georgia
©2001