Interacting With Implicit Knowing in the Mathematics Classroom

  • Author / Creator
    Metz, Martina L.
  • This study explores Grade Seven students’ experiences of doubt and certainty in mathematics. During nine months of (bi-monthly) sessions, students responded to several mathematical prompts; their interactions with each other and with the teacher- researcher were video-taped, transcribed, and coded for learners’ evolving perceptions of what was (a) sufficient to define certainty (including what was experienced as intuitive or counter-intuitive and ways such certainty was interrupted), (b) relevant to the tasks (including understandings that initially dwelled on the periphery of awareness), and (c) mathematically connected. The study is conceptualized within an enactivist view of cognition that emphasizes autonomous, co-emergent, and embodied knowing (Thompson, 2007; Varela, Thompson, & Rosch, 1991), and classes were designed with these principles in mind. It became clear that doubt and certainty emerge from a broader, holistic understanding that is largely beneath ordinary awareness and is deeply implicated in what we experience as “repeatable context” (Bateson (1964/1972). An important aspect of the study was to bring more of this understanding to awareness. In doing so, Varela’s (Varela & Scharmer, 2000) notion of researcher as empathic coach and Gendlin’s notions of “felt sense” (1962, 1978) and “implicit intricacy” (1991; 2009a) assumed importance. By attending to the holistic sense that points to implicit understanding, it was possible to broaden the scope of what was deemed relevant in selected contexts. It was found that previously subconscious understandings nonetheless influenced learning. Once named (even broadly), implicit understanding co- evolved with language in developing mathematical understanding. By attending to external indicators of felt meaning, learners interacted with each others’ implicit understanding, thereby bringing it closer to consciousness and into conversation. Prematurely insisting on clarity and logic precluded awareness of the implicit.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2013
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Mathematics Education
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • McGarvey, Lynn (Elementary Education)
    • Martin, Lyndon (York University)
    • Glanfield, Florence (Secondary Education)
    • Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)