Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Language, Education, Humanities & Innovation 2015
ISBN 978-967-13140-2-9

A Steep Battle between Flexible Knowledge and For-The-Test Mentality

Low, Chee Soon

KDU College, Malaysia


Literature and empirical studies abound, pointing to the potential benefits of teaching and learning flexible knowledge and strategy flexibility in mathematics education. Ironically, other studies on classroom practice frequently revealed little emphasis on flexible knowledge as a means to promote flexible connections with mathematical concepts for effective and efficient problem solving. This study administered seven multiple-solution tasks to thirty-two newly-enrolled A-Level student participants from twenty public secondary schools. The study aimed to assess the participants’ flexibility in producing conceptually-varied solutions to the same tasks and adaptivity in employing relatively more efficient strategies. The participants’ written solution strategies and group interview protocols served the main source of data for analysis. Findings generally pointed to the participants’ low levels of flexibility and adaptivity. The ensuing interview identified for-the-test culture in the participants’ past learning as the potential hindrance to the learning of flexible knowledge. While student performance is generally believed to be highly associated with learning experience, the findings have implied little emphasis on flexible knowledge in the participants’ secondary studies. Further implications are discussed.


flexible knowledge, for-the-test mentality, multiple solutions, strategy flexibility

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