Primary teachers notice the impact of language on children’s mathematical reasoning

Leicha A. Bragg, Sandra Herbert, Esther Yoon Kin Loong, Colleen Vale, Wanty Widjaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Mathematical reasoning is now featured in the mathematics curriculum documents of many nations, but this necessitates changes to teaching practice and hence a need for professional learning. The development of children’s mathematical reasoning requires appropriate encouragement and feedback from their teacher who can only do this if they recognise mathematical reasoning in children’s actions and words. As part of a larger study, we explored whether observation of educators conducting mathematics lessons can develop teachers’ sensitivity in noticing children’s reasoning and consideration of how to support reasoning. In the Mathematical Reasoning Professional Learning Research Program, demonstration lessons were conducted in Australian and Canadian primary classrooms. Data sources included post-lesson group discussions. Observation of demonstration lessons and engagement in post-lesson discussions proved to be effective vehicles for developing a professional eye for noticing children’s individual and whole-class reasoning. In particular, the teachers noticed that children struggled to employ mathematical language to communicate their reasoning and viewed limitations in language as a major barrier to increasing the use of mathematical reasoning in their classrooms. Given the focus of teachers’ noticing of the limitations in some types of mathematical language, it seems that targeted support is required for teachers to facilitate classroom discourse for reasoning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-544
Number of pages22
JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Language
  • Mathematical terminology
  • Noticing
  • Primary mathematics
  • Reasoning

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