New doctoral thesis from Sweden

Eva Riesbeck from Linköping University is defending her thesis on April 11. The thesis is written in Swedish, with an English summary, and the title is “På tal om matematik: matematiken, vardagen och den matematikdidaktiska diskursen“. The main aim of the thesis is to analyze how discourse can be used as a theoretical and didactical concept to help advance knowledge about the teaching of mathematics. Riesbeck has used a socio-cultural perspective, and discourse analysis has been a theoretical point of departure. The thesis is freely available in PDF format. Here is the abstract in its entirety:

The aim of this dissertation is to describe and analyze how discourse as a theoretical and didactical concept can help in advancing knowledge about the teaching of mathematics in school. The dissertation has been written within a socio-cultural perspective where active participation and support from artefacts and mediation are viewed as important contributions to the development of understanding. Discourse analysis was used as a theoretical point of departure to grasp language use, knowledge construction and mathematical content in the teaching practises. The collection of empirical data was made up of video and audio tape recordings of the interaction of teachers and pupils in mathematics classrooms when they deal with problem-solving tasks, as well as discussions between student teachers as they engage in planning a teaching situation in mathematics. Discourse analysis was used as a tool to shed light upon how pupils learn and develop understanding of mathematics.

The results of my studies demonstrate that discussions very often are located in either a mathematical or in an every-day discourse. Furthermore, the results demonstrate how change between every-day and mathematical language often takes place unknowingly. Also the results underline that a specific and precise dialogue can contribute towards teachers’ and pupils’ conscious participation in the learning process. Translated into common vocabulary such as speak, think, write, listen and read teachers and pupils would be able to interact over concepts, signs, words, symbols, situations and phenomena in every-day discourse and its mathematical counterpart. When teachers and pupils become aware of discursive boundary crossing in mathematics an understanding of mathematical phenomena can start to develop. Teachers and pupils can construct a meta-language leading to new knowledge and new learning in mathematics.

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