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Critical Maths for Innovative Societies

The Role of Metacognitive Pedagogies

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How can mathematics education foster the skills that are appropriate for innovative societies? Mathematics education is heavily emphasised worldwide, nevertheless it is still considered to be a stumbling block for many students. While there is almost a consensus that mathematics problems appropriate for the 21st century should be complex, unfamiliar and non-routine (CUN), most of the textbooks still mainly include routine problems based on the application of ready-made algorithms.

The time has come to introduce innovative instructional methods in order to enhance mathematics education and students’ ability to solve CUN tasks. Metacognitive pedagogies can play a key role in this. These pedagogies explicitly train students to “think about their thinking” during learning. They can be used to improve not just academic achievement (content knowledge and understanding, the ability to handle unfamiliar problems etc.) but also affective outcomes such as reduced anxiety or improved motivation. This strong relationship between metacognition and schooling outcomes has implications for the education community and policy makers.

This book is designed to assist practitioners, curriculum developers and policy makers alike in preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world.

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Introduction

This book is based on tens of studies, all trying to understand how education can foster the skills that are appropriate for innovative societies. It focuses on mathematics education, a subject that is heavily emphasised worldwide, but nevertheless still considered to be a stumbling block for many students. While there is almost a consensus that the mathematics problems appropriate for the 21st century have to be complex, unfamiliar and non-routine (CUN), most of the textbooks still include only routine problems based on the application of ready-made algorithms. The challenge might become even greater as the development of mathematics literacy comes to be one of the key aims in the curriculum. Undoubtedly, there is a need to introduce innovative instructional methods for enhancing mathematics education and in particular students’ ability to solve CUN tasks. These require the application of metacognitive processes, such as planning, monitoring, control, and reflection. It will be critical to train students to “think about their thinking” during learning.

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