The Use of Cartoons as Teaching a Tool in Middle School Mathematics

Hoyun Cho

The Use of Cartoons as Teaching a Tool in Middle School Mathematics
Cho, Hoyun
Mathematics Education
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Ph.D., Columbia University.
This dissertation focuses on examining the use of mathematical cartoons as a teaching tool in middle school mathematics classroom. A mixed methods research design was used to answer how the use of cartoon activities affects teacher and student perceptions of teaching and learning and student intrinsic motivation, interest, and mathematics anxiety in middle school mathematics. 17 students in 7th grade pre-algebra class and one teacher participated in this study. Eight cartoon activities were provided over a 10-week period, but no more than one cartoon activity per class period was given to them. Student surveys were analyzed using quantitative method, such as mean score, frequency, and percentage, and student mathematics journal and teacher journal were analyzed using descriptive analysis. The results of this study revealed that both students and teacher reported positive results from using cartoons in the mathematics classroom. Students became more open as time went on and it was possible to see their mathematical insights as the study progressed. They did not enjoy easy cartoon activities, but relished challenging ones. Their frustration at difficult-to-understand activities shows the importance of carefully matching cartoon activities to student abilities. When cartoon activities have appropriate levels of difficulty and are clearly understandable, students' intrinsic motivation and interest increased, and mathematics anxiety decreased. The teacher reported that students gave up less easily, participated more readily, and were more focused in classes with cartoon activities. Mathematics instruction with cartoon activities has shown the students that they can enjoy learning mathematics, mathematics can be fun, and they do have the ability to be successful in mathematics. The use of cartoon activity proved to be a valuable instructional tool for improving the quality of mathematics instruction in a 7th grade classroom.
Mathematics education
Teacher education
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