The influence of an open method of mathematics instruction upon the attitude and comprehension of first year students in a primary teachers college : presented in partial fulfilment of the degree of Master of Education in the Department of Education, Massey University
This investigation reports an experimental study of the influence of two methods of intruction (open and conventional) upon the mathematics attitude and mathematics comprehension of one hundred and twenty-four first year primary teachers college students. Approximately equal numbers of first year students were randomly assigned to four groups in two experimental conditions. Sex, testing, method of instruction, and type of studentship were the major independent factors of this study. The concepts and principles of one domain of primary mathematics content (number and numeration) were taught to the four groups of students for approximately two hours each week over a ten week period. The specially trained staff were paired for instruction. Each pair was randomly assigned to two sections of students, one in the open group and one in the conventional group. The same staff participated in both methods of instruction. Two independent measures were used to assess the mathematics comprehension and mathematics attitude of the students. An attitude scale based on the Rasch (1960) model was especially constructed for the purposes of this study. The measures of student attitude to mathematics were obtained immediately after instruction from one half of the students in each of the experimental conditions and from all students immediately after the period of instruction. The major hypotheses postulated higher mean comprehension and attitude scores for students who experienced the open method of mathematics instruction. These hypotheses were not supported by the data. Analyses of variance and covariance found no difference between the mean attitude scores of male and female students, direct entry and mature age students, and between pretested students and those who were not pretested. Similar results were found with the comprehension scores except for those obtained from the direct entry and mature age students. After instruction the mean comprehension score of direct entry students was significantly higher than the mean comprehension score of mature age students. A similar difference was observed between these two groups before the period of instruction. Also after instruction, irrespective of method, the students comprehension and attitude scores were significantly higher (p < 0.001) than those scores obtained before the period of instruction. Further examination of the data for each of the dependent measures by means of three-way analyses of variance and covariance was carried out. Although these procedures provided further evidence, certain limitations in the study and in the instruments qualified the findings.