School of Teaching and Learning Faculty Publications


Effects of Minute Contextual Experience on Realistic Assessment of Proportional Reasoning

Document Type



This mixed methods study describes the effects of a minute contextual experience on students’ ability to solve a realistic assessment problem involving scale drawings and proportional reasoning. Minute contextual experience (MCE) is defined to be a brief encounter with a context in which aspects of the context are explored openly. The study looked closely at what happened during an instructional unit examining proportional reasoning. Students completed a pretest and posttest involving items characterizing a novel context, and data were analyzed to determine the effects of the MCE. Students were interviewed to gather their perspectives on the problem and their own solutions. Pretest results indicated that instruction in which student demonstrated growth in understanding had little effect on students’ ability to solve a novel problem in which they had difficulty associating their everyday mundane knowledge with the realistic context. The students demonstrated a significant increase in ability to solve the novel problem after a MCE. Furthermore, student explicated that the MCE aided their ability to visualize the context, and this helped them apply instructional learning to solve the problem. A discussion of the complexities involving the assumptions of students’ familiarity with contexts and their abilities to draw upon their mundane everyday experiences to solve proportional reasoning problems is shared.

Publication Date

Fall 2013

Publication Title

Investigations in Mathematics Learning


Research Council on Mathematics Learning

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