Low Attainers and Learning of Mathematics

  • Tin Lam TohEmail author
  • Berinderjeet Kaur
Part of the Mathematics Education – An Asian Perspective book series (MATHEDUCASPER)


This chapter describes the main studies which have been carried out in the Singapore mathematics classrooms to identify and address the learning needs of low attainers in mathematics at the primary and secondary levels. This chapter begins with describing two research projects on low attainers: the first is an exploratory study on low attainers at the primary level and the second a survey on teachers’ perception of low attainers from the Normal (Technical) stream at the secondary level. These two studies identified the characteristics of low attainers and their content knowledge, teachers’ perception about their motivation and competency in mathematics, and provide a preliminary knowledge of how teachers have attempted to facilitate them to learn mathematics better. The chapter further presents three intervention research projects that were conducted by researchers from the Singapore National Institute of Education (NIE) in collaboration with school teachers to facilitate the low attainers in learning mathematics. The first project was an action research proposed by a school to facilitate the mathematics learning of students from the Normal (Academic) stream through the use of cooperative learning strategies. The researchers proposed a framework of cooperative learning that was trialled in their school setting. The second project was another research project initiated by researchers from NIE on using comics and storytelling in teaching mathematics in the Normal (Technical) stream. The study shows that there was an overall positive impact of this approach on students’ motivation in learning mathematics and their performance in mathematics achievement test. In the third project, another team of researchers from NIE attempting to use the Concrete–Pictorial–Abstract heuristic to help Normal (Academic) students learn mathematics by assisting them to make abstract algebra meaningful and manageable. This chapter concludes with describing the projected initiated by the Ministry of Education at the national level on building teacher capacity to facilitate learning of mathematics among the low attainers in mathematics.


Low attainers in mathematics Alternative teaching approaches Concrete–Pictorial–Abstract (CPA) Comics Storytelling 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of EducationSingaporeSingapore

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