Ngai Ying Wong , Chit Kwong Kong , Chi Chung Lam , Ka Ming Patrick Wong
DOI: JANT Vol.14(No.4) 361-380, 2010
Some 400 Secondary One (i.e. seventh-grade) students from 10 schools were provided with non-routine mathematical problems in their normal mathematics classes as exercises for one academic year. Their attitudes toward mathematics, their conceptions of mathematics and their problem-solving performance were measured both in the beginning and at the end of the year. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that the introduction of an appropriate dose of non-routine problems would generate some effects on the students` conceptions of mathematics. A medium dose of non-routine problems (as reported by the teachers) would result in a change of the students` conception of mathematics to perceiving mathematics as less of "a subject of calculables." On the other hand, a high dose would lead students to perceive mathematics as more useful and more as a discipline involving thinking. However, with a low dose of non-routine problems, students found mathematics more "friendly" (free from fear). It is therefore proposed that the use of non-routine mathematical problems to an appropriate extent can induce changes in students` "lived space" of mathematics learning and broaden their conceptions of mathematics and mathematics learning.