Argumentative problem solving in mathematics classrooms is a crucial practice that supports important student learning goals via collaborative deliberation and consensus building, but also places substantial cognitive and affective demands on both students and teacher. In this in-depth qualitative study, we considered how students’ emotions during argumentative discourse relate to their learning of real-life functional situations, an area of mathematics highlighted in the literature as foundational yet difficult. Observations, written reflections, and interviews of six Year 9 (14–15-year-old) students’ experience of argument construction, critique, and consensus building were analyzed for insights into emotions experienced during small-group argumentative problem solving, and how various emotions might support or hinder students’ mathematics learning. The emotion of frustration was experienced frequently and was found to facilitate persistence and the correction of misconceptions, but also to hinder the learning in contributing to ongoing tension and eventual resignation. Peer critique was found to stimulate negative emotions but positive learning processes, such as seeking other ways to explain one’s reasoning, and re-evaluating one’s own incorrect solutions.
- Secondary mathematics