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Framing for Sense Making in Whole-Class Mathematics Discussions

Shekell, Calli (2019) Framing for Sense Making in Whole-Class Mathematics Discussions. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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For nearly 30 years, education has been researching and implementing practices and teacher strategies to better support students to engage in more meaningful interactions with mathematics. In particular, moving away from teacher-centered approaches to mathematics learning and into more student-centered ones has been a focus. Whole-class discussions have been the subject of investigation in much of this research. Studying how teachers can better support students to discuss their perspectives on, work within, and pose questions about the mathematics of study has been one line of inquiry. Students need to have opportunities to make sense of the mathematics – to make decisions about what strategies to use, to engage with one another’s ideas, and to productively struggle to reach new, more complete understandings. Similar sense making-driven efforts in science education research have used the sociological construct of framing (Goffman, 1974) to examine students’ interactions with one another, the content, and their teachers (i.e., Hammer et al., 2005). My aim was to further understand a teacher’s work of framing and how that may or may not influence students’ interactions around the mathematics, particularly their engagement in sense making during whole-class discussions. To do so, I employed an explanatory case study design to study a 6th grade mathematics classroom. Based on a detailed micro-analysis of three videotaped lessons as well as teacher and student interviews, this study’s logic of inquiry followed six different phases. The analysis revealed that the teacher’s framing in this classroom mattered for the ways in which her students framed the activity and engaged in sense-making activity. Specifically, when the teacher framed the activity as a sense-making endeavor in which they were expected to be the authority, co-construct mathematical explanations, and to engage in productive struggle, the students did so. When the teacher engaged in less productive framings that were more teacher-centered, the students aligned with that framing as well. The implications of this study for teacher practice include the need to support teachers in setting and maintaining interactional expectations. In addition, supporting students to reach those expectations through particular framings is an added layer to consider beyond instructional practices.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Shekell, Callicas285@pitt.educas2850000-0002-3715-472X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairForman, Elliceellice@pitt.eduellice
Committee MemberAnsell, Ellenansell@pitt.eduansell
Committee MemberWallace, Tannertwallace@pitt.eduwallace
Committee MemberKiesling, Scottkiesling@pitt.edukiesling
Committee MemberMunter,
Date: 26 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 March 2019
Approval Date: 26 June 2019
Submission Date: 5 June 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 181
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: framing, mathematics education, discussion, teacher education, sense making
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2019 19:25
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2019 19:25


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