Student Engagement and Mathematical Justification Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Student Engagement and Mathematical Justification

The following paper begins with the description of student engagement. It moves further to identify the effect of student engagement on student performance. In addition to that, the paper also focuses on the importance of mathematical justification. The paper also highlights the importance of student engagement in mathematical justification.

Furthermore, the paper comments on the options that the teachers have for improving the student engagement in their class. It also gives recommendations related to those options which would further foster the engagement and participation of the students.



The concept of student engagement is strongly related to reduced dropout rates in schools. The students who participate in the class have strong chances of clearing and getting good grades in the exams. Despite the advantages, the task of motivating and encouraging the students to participate in the class gets challenging year after year. There has been much ambiguity in defining the term student engagement. Recently, however, Parsons and Taylor 2011, have defined student engagement in their study as the willingness of a student to participate in school activities such as, attending classes, submitting homework and answering the questions asked by the teacher in the class. This relates the concept of student engagement to compliance. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

In the same work, Parsons and Taylor mentioned student engagement as the intensity and quality of participation from a student. This definition takes student engagement as a comparative scale measuring the emotional attachment of the student with the school activities and the teacher. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Student engagement is based on many factors. One of these factors is the teaching style. There are ways in which the work can be made more interesting and engaging. The teachers can also introduce several activities and tasks to increase the interest of students. Therefore, teachers play an important part in developing the interest of students in a certain subject and helping them in getting good grades. Effective teaching strategies can act as a lever to boost the grades and participation of students. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Mathematics is a fundamental subject. It is used in almost all the sciences. It is a key subject included in the curriculum of almost all the schools. The increasing importance of mathematics has increased the demand of capable mathematicians to tackle the issues of the new technological era. Ever-increasing technology means that the amount of mathematics used in different fields is also increasing. Therefore, it is indispensable that the students perform well in mathematics.

As mentioned earlier, there is a strong relation between the good performance of students and their engagement in school activities. If the student engagement is increased in the mathematics classes, good results in the subject will be brought forward which will then help the students in tackling the issues of this new technological era. Student engagement in mathematics leads to better mathematical justification as well.

Justification in mathematics means supporting your work with evidence. The students should be able to justify their solutions in the mathematics classes. This indirectly highlights the importance of student engagement in mathematics classes. If the teachers encourage student engagement in the class, the student will be able to communicate his mathematical ideas and concepts and will be able to prove his point as well. As a result, the students will improve their mathematical skills which in turn will help them in further studies. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the concept of student engagement. It also furnishes a relationship between the performance of students in the field of mathematical justification and student engagement. The study explores the research of different authors and finds out ways and strategies to encourage the students to participate in different school activities. Basically, the paper revolves around two major questions:

Why is academic justification an important part of mathematical justification?

How does a math student benefit from a teacher who uses best practices and student engagement strategies?

Based on the aforementioned questions, the study aims to investigate the relationship between the concept of student engagement and mathematical justification. In addition to that, the study also aims to find out the strategies which can be employed by teachers and administrators to improve student engagement and thus mathematical justification.

Research Methodology

This study is based primarily on secondary data. Secondary data is the data collected by someone who is not related to the research directly. Secondary data can be available in written or electronic form. The usage of secondary data brings about advantages with it: (McCaston, 2005)

The basic advantage of secondary data over primary data is that it is relatively cheaper to access, store and use. It is even free of cost sometimes.

In addition to that, secondary data gives a chance to the researcher to explore the topic by reading the work of most renowned authors in the world.

Moreover, exploring secondary data also gives the researcher a direction in which he may take his research. In this way the researcher gets a guideline to follow.

Lastly, secondary data is relatively easy to obtain as the researcher can surf on the internet and find thousands of articles on the internet. (McCaston, 2005)

There is, however, a problem of irrelevancy in secondary data. As the work of other authors may not be on the same topic, the researcher can get astray as well. Therefore, excessive care was taken in selecting the articles for this study. Only peer reviewed work was included. In addition to that, obsolete work was also avoided. After the selection of articles to be included, the work was initiated on the study.

Literature Review

Student engagement, as defined in the work of Parsons and Taylor 2011, is the willingness of the students to engage in school activities. In a second definition, student engagement is defined as the intensity with which the student participates in these activities. The latter definition explores the concept more qualitatively than the previous one and thus makes student engagement a scale of comparison as well. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

There are three types of engagement as described in the work of Parsons and Taylor. The three types are: (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Behavioral Engagement

Academic-Cognitive Engagement

Social-Psychological engagement (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

The first type of engagement is related to the non-academic engagement. This refers to the engagement of students in extracurricular activities and sports. The second type of engagement that refers to pure academic stuff. A student will be called academically engaged if he submits homework on time and participates in the class as well. The third type of engagement indicates the emotional attachment that a student develops with his school, teachers and friends. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Measurement of Student Engagement

Student engagement can be a very difficult thing to measure. The level of interest the student is having in a certain topic is almost impossible to measure accurately. However, as mentioned in the research of Parsons and Taylor, researcher use two different techniques in order to measure the student engagement level. The techniques are: (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)


Teacher rating (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

The first method is based on the reports brought forward by the students themselves. If a student is interested in a subject he can report it to the researcher and answer a few questions about his interest. If a student is not interested, he can also report his scenario along with reasons. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

The second method takes into account the remarks and perspective of the teacher. According to the teacher, the level of academic engagement of a student is indicated by the class participation and the grades he gets. Therefore, teacher's remarks on class participation and grades can provide a lot of information about student engagement. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Importance of Student Engagement

As mentioned earlier, student engagement is indispensable to the good performance of students. Lack of student engagement indicates a lack of interest which eventually hinders the academic progress of the students. It also negatively impacts the lives of students in the long run. As the work of Parson and Taylor 2011 cites the work of Willms, Friesen, Milton 2009, 'What happens today in education profoundly influences the lives of individuals and the health of whole communities for decades to come.' Therefore, if student engagement is neglected today, the students, who are the builders of the future, will be having a severe lack of interest in their future studies and eventually their jobs. This will inflict a loss on the society and these students as well. (Parsons & Taylor, 2011)

Students nowadays want to participate in the class and other activities in their own way. The students cannot be forced to do a certain thing nowadays. This makes the role of teacher even more critical as the teacher has to understand the problems of the students and then encourage them to participate further in the…

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