Instructional moves that increase chances of engaging all students in learning mathematics

Janette Bobis, James Russo, Ann Downton, Maggie Feng, Sharyn Livy, Melody McCormick, Peter Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Despite the construct of challenge being recognized as an essential element of mathematics instruction, concerns have been raised about whether such approaches benefit students with diverse academic needs. In this article, we focus on the beliefs and instructional practices of teachers teaching students in the first three years of school (5 to 8 years of age). These teachers participated in professional learning focused on challenging mathematical tasks differentiated through their open-ended design and the use of enabling and extending prompts. The instructional practices are explained using the Theory of Didactical Situations. Questionnaire data from pre-intervention (n = 148) and post-intervention (n = 100) groups of teachers indicated that teachers in the postintervention group held more negative beliefs than those in the pre-intervention group about the capability of instructional approaches involving a priori grouping of students by performance levels. Interviews with ten teachers from the post-intervention group revealed and characterized the ways teachers employed open-ended tasks with enabling and extending prompts to engage all learners. Findings reveal that teachers knowing their students as individual learners accompanied by knowledge of a range of teaching practices to differentiate instruction are central to engaging all learners.

Original languageEnglish
Article number582
Number of pages19
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021


  • A-didactical
  • Challenge
  • Didactical
  • Differentiation
  • Growth mindset
  • Responsive teaching
  • Struggle
  • Student-centered instruction

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