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Chinese students and mathematical problem solving: An application of the actiotope model of giftedness


Callingham, R, Chinese students and mathematical problem solving: An application of the actiotope model of giftedness, Exceptionality in East Asia: Explorations in the actiotope model of giftedness, Routledge, SN Phillipson, H Stoeger and A Ziegler (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 86-99. ISBN 978-0-415-50727-1 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]

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A variety of explanations has been given for the reasons why Chinese students perform exceptionally well in mathematics. When learning mathematics in any context, new ideas and concepts are introduced into students’ existing environments. It is the role of the student to deal with this novel idea or challenge, and this role is underpinned by the often tacit assumption that the goal of the teacher – that every student will try hard to learn and come to understand the new idea – is also the goal of each individual student. To attain this goal, a student must search an existing subjective action space to fi nd the appropriate action repertoires needed to reach the intended outcome. There are many reasons why this process – learning new mathematics ideas – goes astray. Students bring to the classroom a wide range of knowledge, beliefs, values and expectations derived from previous experiences, family backgrounds and personal traits, and these characteristics of the student impact on the success or otherwise of the learning endeavour.

Reasons offered as explanation for Chinese students’ success in mathematics include the importance of education to Chinese families, the Confucian tradition, the effects of Chinese language, and didactic teaching approaches. This chapter examines some of the explanations offered for Chinese students’ success in school mathematics using the actiotope model of giftedness (Ziegler, 2005) as a framework.

The research around Chinese students’ mathematical performance will fi rst be reviewed. The actiotope model will then be used to draw together the disparate threads of explanation. Finally, the appropriateness of applying the actiotope model to explain group performance will be considered, together with the implications of such an approach.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Callingham, R (Associate Professor Rosemary Callingham)
ID Code:85380
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2013-07-03
Last Modified:2014-08-11

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