Multiple perspectives on the development of an eighth-grade mathematical discourse community

Edith Prentice Mendez*, Miriam G Sherin, David A. Louis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article we examine the development, over 1 year, of mathematical discourse communities in 2 eighth-grade mathematics classes in a suburban public middle school. The curriculum topics included probability, functions, graphing, data analysis, and pre-algebra. The 50 students were heterogeneously placed; most were from uppermiddle-class families. Data included videotaped classroom observations, field notes, and teacher reflections. We explored both the students' growing competencies with mathematical discourse and changes in how the teacher attended to students' ideas. We present the teacher's impressions of the developing discourse community, and we applied 2 research-based lenses, robust mathematical discussion to assess the strength of student discourse, and professional vision for classroom discourse to analyze the ways in which the teacher paid attention to, and reflected on, ideas students raised during discussion. Applying multiple perspectives highlighted the complex nature of developing a discourse community and the challenges facing the teacher as he worked to orchestrate constructive dialogue for learning mathematics and to become aware of what students were learning in this context. We also provide an analytic tool, the robust mathematical discussion framework, that will be useful for teachers, teacher educators, and researchers to evaluate the evolving nature of classroom discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-61
Number of pages21
JournalElementary School Journal
Volume108
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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