Degree Granting Department
Childhood Education and Literacy Studies
Jenifer J. Schneider
James R. King
constructed response, mathematical vocabulary, mathematical writing prompts, writing in mathematics
The purpose of this study was to investigate how writing in mathematics is treated in one 4th grade National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded mathematics textbook titled Everyday Mathematics and one publisher-generated textbook titled enVision MATH. The developed framework provided categories to support each of the research questions. The results indicate that writing is supported in both traditional and NSF developed 4th grade mathematics textbooks
Results also indicated the number of exercises and writing prompts was higher in the enVision MATH textbook. However, Everyday Mathematics had a higher percentage of exercises that were coded as writing prompts. The framework domains of content strand in enVision MATH and Everyday Mathematics are similar in percentages with the exception of prompts coded in the other category. Everyday Mathematics appeared to be the only textbook analyzed to support writing across different content areas. Furthermore, the content strand of number sense had the largest percentage of writing prompts coded between both textbook series. Other findings from this study suggest that the type of vocabulary coded within the writing prompts was similar in all categories between both textbook series analyzed. Additionally, vocabulary specific to the domain of mathematics and symbols appeared to have the largest percentage in this category for both textbook series.
The teacher and student editions were explored in enVision MATH and Everyday Mathematics to provide more depth to the research. An exploration of the teacher edition indicated how writing was supported for instructional purposes. The teacher editions in both textbook series had the largest percentage of support in the form of one sample response. Within the student edition category, the layout varied in the enVision MATH and Everyday Mathematics textbook series. As a result, only the language of Everyday MATH could be analyzed for patterns in the sections, sub-sections, and additional sub-sections of where the prompts were located.
Although this investigation did not involve analyzing student responses to the writing prompts, the findings provide information regarding the expectations of the writer in order to construct a mathematical response. For example, the domain specific vocabulary (DSV) and symbols category was rated the highest in percentage for both textbooks indicating that students will need to have command of the language and symbols of mathematics in order to engage in meaning making written discourse.
Because most of the math prompts were specific to the problem solving category, it was determined after a linguistic analysis that the affordance of the prompt is much more complex than then binary categories of content and process Additionally, in order for students to respond to these content writing prompts, many process words known as meta-language (i.e., explanation, description, why question, how question) need to be comprehended in order for composition to begin.
In light of these findings, I recommend that special attention be given to the teacher and student editions regarding the implementation of writing in mathematics. The development of these materials has important implications regarding instruction and learning of mathematical concepts through writing, potentially impacting student performance on national and international assessments.
Scholar Commons Citation
Joseph, Christine M., "Communication and Academic Vocabulary in Mathematics: A Content Analysis of Prompts Eliciting Written Responses in Two Elementary Mathematics Textbooks" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.