Using expectancy-value theory to explore aspects of motivation and engagement in inquiry-based learning in primary mathematics
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Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a pedagogical approach in which students address complex, ill-structured problems set in authentic contexts. While IBL is gaining ground in Australia as an instructional practice, there has been little research that considers implications for student motivation and engagement. Expectancy-value theory (Eccles and Wigfield 2002) provides a framework through which children’s beliefs about their mathematical competency and their expectation of success are able to be examined and interpreted, alongside students’ perceptions of task value. In this paper, Eccles and Wigfield’s expectancy-value model has been adopted as a lens to examine a complete unit of mathematical inquiry as undertaken with a class of 9–10-year-old students. Data were sourced from a unit (∼10 lessons) based on geometry and geometrical reasoning. The units were videotaped in full, transcribed, and along with field notes and student work samples, subjected to theoretical coding using the dimensions of Eccles and Wigfield’s model. The findings provide insight into aspects of IBL that may impact student motivation and engagement. The study is limited to a single unit; however, the results provide a depth of insight into IBL in practice while identifying features of IBL that may be instrumental in bringing about increased motivation and engagement of students in mathematics. Identifying potentially motivating aspects of IBL enable these to be integrated and more closely studied in IBL practises.
Mathematics Education Research Journal
Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified