Ambitious mathematics: Ratios, decimals, fractions and time for Ta’ovala:
Reflections: Deep engagement for deeper learning


Professor Roberta Hunter reflects on the group work and identifies the significance and nature of the student engagement:

She explains the implications for students

‘Once they got into the maths, nobody was disengaged.

That typifies how their everyday maths lessons have been for them.

They have had lots of opportunities to participate day after day after day in high quality challenging maths lessons where they have learnt resilience, they have learnt to persevere…

They expected to be challenged. They expected to find difficulties. They didn’t expect to be rescued.’

Professor Hunter explains the implications for the teacher’s role

‘David went around from group to group to group. He listened and he pressed but he didn’t tell. He didn’t take over... He listened to them.

He thought about what they were saying and he asked a key question that pressed them to think further, including stopping them all and picking up a couple of challenges… [he] forced them back to analyse their work.’

A student explains the implications for student agency and learning

‘I think it’s good if he asks us questions and doesn’t just give us the answer, because if he just gave us the answer we’re not really learning anything. If he asks us questions it helps us start our brains, we actually work on the problem instead of him just giving it to us.’

The students believe that they can learn. They are developing a ‘growth mindset’, a belief that they can succeed with hard work, found to be associated with much higher achievement in the Programme for International Student Achievement.

Find out more

Boaler, J. (2016). Mathematical mindsets: Unleashing students' potential through creative math, inspiring messages and innovative teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.