The question of how to enhance the learning of low-achieving students in mathematics presents an important challenge to researchers and teachers alike. We investigated whether and how the use of a contextual story presented in a video clip facilitated low-achieving students' understanding of the meaning of fraction expansion. To this end, we (a) videotaped one group of three such students during a guided interaction session, (b) interviewed students and teachers about their first impressions of the use of the video clip, and (c) conducted pre-post-tests to examine the discourse students choose to employ to discuss expansion. Despite the interviewees' impression that the use of the video clips makes it easier to remember the story, the analysis of the guided interaction session revealed that the students did not use it spontaneously when asked to explain why a fraction and its expanded form are equivalent. Rather, their explanations revolved around the expansion procedure. It was the tutor's careful interventions in the discourse, building on the students' recall of the story, which led to a synergy effect that facilitated the students' understanding and articulation of the meaning of fraction expansion. This combination proved to be a potentially successful strategy in effectively promoting low-achieving students' understanding in mathematics, as demonstrated in the students' discourse and post-test performance. At the same time, our results highlight the delicate scaffolding required to achieve a beneficial effect.
- Learning process
- Low achievers