Given the prominence of group work in mathematics education policy and curricular materials, it is important to understand how students make sense of mathematics during group work. We applied techniques from Systemic Functional Linguistics to examine how students positioned themselves during group work on a novel task in Algebra II classes. We examined the patterns of positioning that students demonstrated during group work and how students' positioning moves related to the ways they established the resources, operations, and product of a task. Students who frequently repositioned themselves created opportunities for mathematical reasoning by attending to the resources and operations necessary for completing the task. The findings of this study suggest how students' positioning and mathematical reasoning are intertwined and jointly support collaborative learning through work on novel tasks.
Anna F. DeJarnette and Gloriana González
Shiv Karunakaran, Ben Freeburn, Nursen Konuk, and Fran Arbaugh
Preservice mathematics teachers are entrusted with developing their future students' interest in and ability to do mathematics effectively. Various policy documents place an importance on being able to reason about and prove mathematical claims. However, it is not enough for these preservice teachers, and their future students, to have a narrow focus on only one type of proof (demonstration proof), as opposed to other forms of proof, such as generic example proofs or pictorial proofs. This article examines the effectiveness of a course on reasoning and proving on preservice teachers' awareness of and abilities to recognize and construct generic example proofs. The findings support assertions that such a course can and does change preservice teachers' capability with generic example proofs.
Jessica Pierson Bishop, Lisa L. Lamb, Randolph A. Philipp, Ian Whitacre, Bonnie P. Schappelle, and Melinda L. Lewis
We identify and document 3 cognitive obstacles, 3 cognitive affordances, and 1 type of integer understanding that can function as either an obstacle or affordance for learners while they extend their numeric domains from whole numbers to include negative integers. In particular, we highlight 2 key subsets of integer reasoning: understanding or knowledge that may, initially, interfere with one's learning integers (which we call cognitive obstacles) and understanding or knowledge that may afford progress in understanding and operating with integers (which we call cognitive affordances). We analyzed historical mathematical writings related to integers as well as clinical interviews with children ages 6-10 to identify critical, persistent cognitive obstacles and powerful ways of thinking that may help learners to overcome obstacles.
Kevin C. Moore
A growing body of literature has identified quantitative and covariational reasoning as critical for secondary and undergraduate student learning, particularly for topics that require students to make sense of relationships between quantities. The present study extends this body of literature by characterizing an undergraduate precalculus student's progress during a teaching experiment exploring angle measure and trigonometric functions.
research matters for teachers
Heather Lynn Johnson
This research-based article discusses how predicting amounts of change in quantities can promote students' covariation perspective.
Joanne Lobato, Charles Hohensee, and Bohdan Rhodehamel
Even in simple mathematical situations, there is an array of different mathematical features that students can attend to or notice. What students notice mathematically has consequences for their subsequent reasoning. By adapting work from both cognitive science and applied linguistics anthropology, we present a focusing framework, which treats noticing as a complex phenomenon that is distributed across individual cognition, social interactions, material resources, and normed practices. Specifically, this research demonstrates that different centers of focus emerged in two middle grades mathematics classes addressing the same content goals, which, in turn, were related conceptually to differences in student reasoning on subsequent interview tasks. Furthermore, differences in the discourse practices, features of the mathematical tasks, and the nature of the mathematical activity in the two classrooms were related to the different mathematical features that students appeared to notice.
Nicholas J. Gilbertson, Samuel Otten, Lorraine M. Males, and D. Lee Clark
For many American students, high school geometry provides their only focused experience in writing proofs (Herbst 2002), and proof is often viewed as the application of recently learned theorems rather than a means of establishing and understanding the truth of general results (Soucy McCrone and Martin 2009).
Angeliki Kolovou, Marja van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, and Olaf Köller
This study investigated whether an intervention including an online game contributed to 236 Grade 6 students' performance in early algebra, that is, solving problems with covarying quantities. An exploratory quasi-experimental study was conducted with a pretest-posttest-control-group design. Students in the experimental group were asked to solve at home a number of problems by playing an online game. Although boys outperformed girls in early algebra performance on the pretest as well as on the posttest, boys and girls profited equally from the intervention. Implications of these results for educational practice are discussed.
Ricardo Nemirovsky, Molly L. Kelton, and Bohdan Rhodehamel
Research in experimental and developmental psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience suggests that tool fluency depends on the merging of perceptual and motor aspects of its use, an achievement we call perceptuomotor integration. We investigate the development of perceptuomotor integration and its role in mathematical thinking and learning. Just as expertise in playing a piano relies on the interanimation of finger movements and perceived sounds, we argue that mathematical expertise involves the systematic interpenetration of perceptual and motor aspects of playing mathematical instruments. Through 2 microethnographic case studies of visitors who engaged with an interactive mathematics exhibit in a science museum, we explore the real-time emergence of perceptuomotor integration and the ways in which it supports mathematical imagination.
Jennifer Noll and J. Michael Shaughnessy
Sampling tasks and sampling distributions provide a fertile realm for investigating students' conceptions of variability. A project-designed teaching episode on samples and sampling distributions was team-taught in 6 research classrooms (2 middle school and 4 high school) by the investigators and regular classroom mathematics teachers. Data sources included survey data collected in 6 research classes and 4 comparison classes both before and after the teaching episode, and semistructured task-based interviews conducted with students from the research classes. Student responses and reasoning on sampling tasks led to the development of a conceptual lattice that characterizes types of student reasoning about sampling distributions. The lattice may serve as a useful conceptual tool for researchers and as a potential instructional tool for teachers of statistics. Results suggest that teachers need to focus explicitly on multiple aspects of distributions, especially variability, to enhance students' reasoning about sampling distributions.