1 University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
2 Instituto Politécnico de Leiria (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 3823-3828
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.0745
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
Mathematics, considered one of the basic areas of various formations, has been the subject of concern for many authors and researchers due to its enormous academic and educational failure (Araújo & Cabrita, 2012). Its importance in day-to-day life and the formation of individuals is irrefutable (Earls & Holbrook, 2007). One of the problems identified in the failure of mathematics teaching is the lack of motivation that students feel towards the discipline. According to Matos (2006, p.41), motivation is an essential factor in any learning since the quality of learning is not only related to the capacity to learn, but also to the level of motivation that we have to carry out this same learning. Considering that it is imperative to make the teaching and learning process of mathematics more stimulating, taking into account modern society and student’s interests (Joint Mathematical Council of United Kingdom, 2011), the authors have developed a qualitative case study to evaluate how "mathematical magic" can contribute to increase students’ motivation for learning mathematics. In order to develop this experience, the techniques of inquiry, direct observation and analysis of documents were applied and the following instruments were used: questionnaires and respective analysis grids; production of a battery of tasks of a diversified nature; field notes and interviews.

Although this project is still ongoing and therefore not yet completed, a previous analysis of the collected data allows us to conclude that the use of mathematical magic tricks in the classroom, with the purpose of motivating the students to learn mathematics, was revealed effective. Students were curious about the new tricks and were positively surprised at the relative simplicity of their explanation, as if saying to themselves, "How can such mathematical concepts bring so much surprise?" The students showed that the topics gained more meaning after performing the tricks because they witnessed real applications of the concepts, with an extremely attractive purpose. They often stated that they were going to play the tricks on their friends / family outside the classroom context, which meant that they were mastering the concepts involved.
Mathematics, mathematics education, recreational mathematics, mathematical magic, higher education.