Mediating mathematical meaning through discourse: An investigation of discursive practices of middle grades mathematics teachers

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has responded to calls for reform of mathematics education by developing and promoting standards that focus on content and process, such as problem solving, reasoning, and communication. Discourse has been an integral part of the reform documents over the past two decades. Although meaningful discourse can enhance learning, research has revealed that the quality and type of talk are critical. Additionally, the role of the teacher in the orchestration of discourse has been identified to be not only essential, but also underestimated.

The purpose of this study was to develop a model of discursive practices in middle grades mathematics classes that specifically focused on how types of talk and verbal assessment interact to mediate mathematical meaning within whole group instruction. To accomplish this, grounded theory methodology, sociolinguistic strategies, and multiple-case study design were employed. The participants were a purposive sample of seven middle grades mathematics teachers (grades 4–8), identified as having characteristics indicative of expertise. Data were collected via semi-structured pre- and post-observation interviews and classroom observations. These were documented using field notes, classroom artifacts, audio and video recordings, and transcriptions. Transcripts of mathematics lessons were coded using sociolinguistic strategies that built on a social constructivist framework. Along with utilizing approaches reported in the research literature, additional analytical tools and techniques were developed and employed by the researcher.

The central result of the research was the development of a model to explain how middle grades mathematics teachers use language to mediate mathematical meaning. Additionally, the model of discourse served as a basis for the examination of the relationships of the types of talk and assessment; it further focused on and indicated tendencies toward either dialogic (generating meaning) or univocal (transmission of meaning). Finally, the research demonstrated that the model of discourse, when combined with multi-level analysis, could be used to build models of teaching. This research provides means to begin to make sense of the nature and role of discourse within middle grades mathematics classes and, ultimately, to explore how students come to understand and make meaning of mathematics.

Indexing (details)

Mathematics education
0727: Curricula
0727: Teaching
0280: Mathematics education
Identifier / keyword
Education; Discourse; Mathematics teachers; Meaning; Middle grades; Social constructivism
Mediating mathematical meaning through discourse: An investigation of discursive practices of middle grades mathematics teachers
Truxaw, Mary Patricia
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 65/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496028054, 0496028057
DeFranco, Thomas C.
University of Connecticut
University location
United States -- Connecticut
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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