COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES Department of Mathematics and Statistics
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Mathematics Colloquium: What mathematics teachers say and how that affects what mathematics students learn


4:10 pm; Neill 5W

Libby Knott

Abstract: What mathematics teachers say and how we say it has a great impact on how, and how much, students learn; the types of tasks students engage in; the ways in which they construct mathematics for themselves; and how well they make sense of new mathematical concepts. Careful and close study of discourse - what teachers say, when they say it, and how they say -- can shed light on student learning in mathematics, and, most importantly, lead to better teaching practices at all levels of instruction. Mathematical discourse is rich and varied, and my research has identified five categories of teacher discourse, set forth in a paper entitled A Morphology of Teacher Discourse in Mathematics Classrooms (to be published in The International Journal of Mathematics Education). This analysis is surprisingly new for most teachers, so it is important to explore and discuss examples of the discourse of experienced teachers. This enables us to use this framework to analyze our own discourse, thereby gaining a better understanding of our effectiveness as teachers. Such understanding ultimately allows us to assess directly how improving teacher mathematics discourse affects mathematics learning.