This paper takes Vygotsky’s constructivist point of view to report on the findings of a case study focusing on students’ perceptions on communicating mathematically. The study is motivated by the demand for reform and the new curriculum standards for math education that emphasize the importance of conceptual knowledge, reasoning, discourse, and representation (Draper, 2002; NCTM, 2000; etc.). It is also motivated by existing research that calls for a connection to be made between language and mathematics to promote understanding (Hiebert et al., 1996; MacGregor & Price, 1999; Manouchehri & Enderson, 1999; etc.).
In this paper, examination of students’ perceptions on talking and writing math is situated in the instructional discourse as analyzed on the basis of classroom observation. Specific questions guiding the study include: How do students view the role of talking and writing in relation to different aspects of math performance? How do students’ perceptions on talking and writing math serve as dispositions for their performance in talking and writing math? Data were collected through classroom observations, audio taping, and collection of artifacts such as relevant chapters in the textbook, course plans, and student work products including oral interactions and written work. Informal interviews were conducted during the entire period of data collection in the form of “informal conversational interviews” (McMillan & Schumacher, 1989, p.405). Formal interviews were conducted on a voluntary basis and focused mainly on their perceptions about the relationship between communication in mathematics and mathematics learning.
At the theoretical level, the study contributes to our understanding of how students perceive the issue of communication about mathematics. Such a perspective may provide researchers and educators with a better focus on the relations between students’ understanding and performance in particular communication activities in school math. As a result, the study offers pedagogical implications and directions for classroom actions.
|Keywords:||Mathematics Education, Communicating Mathematically, Students’ Perceptions|
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instuction, School of Education, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ, USA
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education, Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ, USA
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