Assessing the added value of a history-based activity for students with low mathematics skills

Thomas De Vittori 1 * , Gaëlle Louaked 2, Marie-Pierre Visentin 3
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1 Laboratoire de Mathématiques de Lens, Faculté des Sciences Jean Perrin, Université d’Artois, Arras, FRANCE
2 Laboratoire Paul Painlevé, Université de Lille, Lille, FRANCE
3 Primary School Henri-Matisse, Saint Sulpice, FRANCE
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp. 112-127.
Published Online: 05 November 2023, Published: 01 January 2024
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The aim of this pilot study is to evaluate the relevance of the use of history in mathematics education. This paper presents an experiment carried out in France with sixth-grade students (n=108) in which an ancient number system is used, an approach that is commonly suggested in French sixth-grade textbooks but has previously been unassessed. Based on the data of a pre-test and a post-test surrounding an activity on an ancient Chinese numeration system, a statistical analysis using Rasch modeling shows a specific added value of the history of mathematics for students with low abilities in mathematics. For these students, a significant increase in observed abilities of +0.67 logit in mean is measured with a large effect size (Cliff delta +0.52). This effect is then weighted by considering the regression to the mean (RTM) effect, leading to a value around +0.14 logit in mean and a negligible effect size (Cliff delta +0.10). So, this pilot study shows the important effect of RTM, which suggests a very strong rebalancing of students’ results. In the last part of the paper, we discuss how RTM can nonetheless be positively interpreted in this specific context where students’ disorientation is one of the purposes of history in mathematics education.


De Vittori, T., Louaked, G., & Visentin, M.-P. (2024). Assessing the added value of a history-based activity for students with low mathematics skills. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 12(1), 112-127.


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