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Estimation in schools

Clayton, John Gibson; (1993) Estimation in schools. Masters thesis (M.Phil), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The importance of pupils developing their ability to estimate has recently been emphasized. Although many researchers have written of the value of, and proposed strategies for estimation, few have studied the estimation ability of pupils and where research exists, the variety of criteria used by researchers prevents ease of comparison between studies. In this study, a set of estimation tasks was presented to a large group of primary and secondary pupils. Several issues were raised from the analysis of the data leading to interviews of pupils engaged in estimation activities. The data showed that the estimates of many pupils - and subsequently some mathematics educators - did not achieve a ±20% criterion for large magnitude answers and in response to this, a new Criterion Of Reasonableness (COR) was developed to assess estimation across a wide numerical range. Additionally, many pupils experienced difficulties in estimating quantitative measures expressed in metric terms and interviews verified that the metric system is not used as their ‘natural’ system of measurement. Many tasks requesting estimates in schools require pupils to test their estimate immediately by obtaining the exact answer and comparing thereby devaluing the estimate. A means was developed by which pupils could be encouraged to estimate without relating the correct answer. Pupils were required to state their confidence that their estimate was within a specified range and the gender of the pupil was a factor in his/her confidence. Estimation can be considered as a risk-taking activity and other areas of the curriculum encourage this type of risk. A survey to measure the attitudes to risk-taking was administered to a large group of primary and secondary pupils. There are strong indicators that the gender of the pupil is a major factor in their willingness to engage in risk-taking and in their self-confidence.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil
Title: Estimation in schools
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by ProQuest.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10019743
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