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Primary School Students’ Competence in Length Estimation: Exploring the Intercultural Validity of an Estimation Competence Model by Contrasting the Educational Systems of Taiwan and Germany

In mathematics education there is a consensus that measurement estimation competence should be addressed in the mathematics classroom already at primary level. The competence to estimate the size of objects (length, area, volume) is of significant importance for everyday life, is required as part of professional expertise in various professions, and can be considered as a part of measurement competence.

Length estimation can be defined as a mental process of determining a length which can include visual or manipulative aspects. We consider length estimation competence as a competence to perform length estimations for given objects in different estimation situations. In the last decades, various empirical studies were conducted to investigate the length estimation competence of students and adults. Empirical research (i) provides descriptive information on individuals’ measurement estimation process and performance, (ii) shows that an effective teaching of estimation strategies is possible and that students who learned efficient estimation strategies improve in length estimation accuracy, and (iii) indicates that length estimation competence is related to other individual cognitive variables like numerical and spatial skills. 

We are not aware of any international comparative studies in the area of length estimation competence. Though empirical evidence is missing, there are various plausible arguments that cultural-societal variables have an influence on length estimation competence of primary school students. Length estimation competence is learnable, can be improved by interventions (i.e. instruction) and is influenced by numerical and spatial skills acquired in mathematics lessons. Hence, there might be direct and indirect effects of cultural-societal factors on the students’ estimation competence. These cultural-societal factors can be related to educational aspects like the curriculum, teacher education, learning culture or education tradition.

Research Goals

Goal 1: Conceptualization and operationalization of length estimation competence

As a first goal we want to conceptualize and operationalize length estimation competence so that we have a framework for item development. It is planned to develop a sensitive length estimation test which assesses length estimation competence in various estimation situations and is able to mirror differences between Taiwanese and German students. In addition to content validity, the test should meet intercultural validity for the Taiwanese and German context. One important step is a systematic analysis of length estimation situations which should be used in test items.

Goal 2: Modeling and examining the structure of length estimation competence

Since length estimation competence is influenced by other cognitive variables, we plan to analyze the structure of length estimation competence by exploring these relations and to describe a model of length estimation competence.

Goal 3: Examining teachers’ views on teaching length estimation in Taiwan and Germany

The teaching and learning culture is one cultural-societal factor which might influence students’ length estimation competence. To directly address this factor we want to assess teachers’ views on teaching length estimation as well as information about the curriculum and the implemented learning opportunities. We expect differences between Taiwan and Germany for all cases. Moreover, we want to investigate whether these differences in teachers’ views, curriculum and learning opportunities can contribute to an explanation of differences in length estimation competence in both countries.

 

Aiso Heinze, Jessica Hoth (IPN Kiel, Germany)

Hsin-Mei  E. Huang (University of Taipei, Taiwan)

Silke Ruwisch, Dana Farina Weiher (Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany)

 

Publications

Heinze, A., Ruwisch, S., & Huang, H.-M. E. (in press). Schätzen von Längen – deutsche und taiwanesische Grundschulkinder im Vergleich. To appear in Beiträge zum Mathematikunterricht 2018.

Heinze, A., Weiher, D. F., Huang, H.-M. E., & Ruwisch, S. (in press). Which estimation situations are relevant for a valid assessment of measurement estimation skills? To appear in Proceedings of the 42nd Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Umea (Sweden): PME.