The Roles of Textual Features, Background Knowledge, and Disciplinary Expertise in Reading a Calculus Textbook

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  • 1 Ithaca College

Textbooks are a standard component of undergraduate mathematics courses, but research shows that students often do not view textbooks as productive resources to support learning. This article seeks to understand the factors affecting how individuals engage in reading a calculus textbook excerpt and what they learn from reading. To better understand the separate roles of background knowledge and other reading practices, we compare 2 readers: a 2nd-semester calculus student and a nonmathematics STEM professor. We employ the concepts of sense making and the implied reader to analyze each reader’s experience and a disciplinary literacy perspective to explain the similarities and differences we find between the 2 readers. We propose the concept of didactical disciplinary literacy—an adaptation of disciplinary literacy applied to didactical texts—to describe the ways that the professor drew on his identity as a teacher to shape his reading practices.

Contributor Notes

Emilie Wiesner, Department of Mathematics, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850; ewiesner@ithaca.edu

Aaron Weinberg, Department of Mathematics, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850; aweinberg@ithaca.edu

Ellie Fitts Fulmer, Department of Education, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850; efulmer@ithaca.edu

John Barr, Department of Computer Science, Ithaca College, 953 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY 14850; barr@ithaca.edu

(Corresponding author is Wiesner ewiesner@ithaca.edu)(Corresponding author is Weinberg aweinberg@ithaca.edu)(Corresponding author is Fulmer efulmer@ithaca.edu)(Corresponding author is Barr barr@ithaca.edu)
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
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