TI-AIE: Tackling mathematical anxiety: combination shapes and solids

What this unit is about

Figure 1 The Taj Mahal

Feeling comfortable with working on combination shapes and solids is important, both in school mathematics and in real life. Buildings, chairs, cutlery, rangoli patterns, mosques and temples all consist of not one shape or solid, but of several put together. People are familiar with combinations of shapes, solids and volumes, but students often find it a difficult topic to deal with in school mathematics.

One of the reasons for this might be that the chapters on volume and surface area are perceived by the students to be about a series of procedures to be followed and complicated formulae to be memorised. This encourages the students to become passive learners and they might experience mathematics as something that is ‘done to them’, without any possibility for developing their own thinking and being creative. This can result in students feeling powerless, disengaged and despondent about learning mathematics.

In this unit you will focus on how to teach composing and decomposing combination solids and shapes, and the mathematical thinking involved in this process. Through activities you will also think about how to develop students’ capacity to make choices and play a more active role in their own learning.

What you can learn in this unit