Manifestations and meanings of cognitive conflict among mathematics students in Embu, Kenya
Ngicho, Dickens O.
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Establishing how cognitive conflict is manifested by students is an important first step in understanding how teachers can utilize cognitive conflict to improve students' learning experiences. This paper presents findings from the analysis of qualitative data drawn from a larger study that explored the role of cognitive conflict in promoting students’ conceptual development in mathematics. The study participants were secondary school mathematics students and their teachers drawn from twenty-five public secondary schools in Embu West Sub-County in Kenya. Data were gathered through surveys and semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and coded, followed by organization of the codes into categories that were used to develop themes. The findings indicate that students experienced cognitive conflict in three significant ways: a moment to (co) construct one’s mathematical meaning, confusion as a result of teacher’s behaviorist stance, and a fleeting moment of magic. The paper recommends that teachers should take advantage of cognitive conflict as a strategy for scaffolding mathematics learning by giving students tasks that provoke critical thinking so that as students work on the tasks, their naïve understandings of the concepts are challenged.