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Unformatted text preview: The Answer Is Only the Beginning: Extended Discourse in Chinese and U.S. Mathematics Classrooms Meg Schleppenbach and Michelle Perry University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Kevin F. Miller University of Michigan Linda Sims University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Ge Fang Chinese Academy of Sciences The authors investigated the use of a particular discourse practice—continued questioning and discussion after a correct answer was provided, which they called extended discourse —and examined the frequency and content of this practice in 17 Chinese and 14 U.S. elementary mathematics classes. They found that the Chinese classrooms had more, and spent more time in, extended discourse than did the U.S. classrooms. The content of these episodes differed: The Chinese classrooms focused more on rules and procedures than did the U.S. classrooms, whereas the U.S. classrooms focused more on computation than did the Chinese classrooms. These findings shed light on interesting practices of discourse in both countries and also have implications for current U.S. reforms in mathematics pedagogy. Keywords: classroom discourse, elementary mathematics learning, Chinese and U.S. elementary class- rooms For more than a decade, mathematics educators have been concerned with how language affects student learning in mathe- matics and how discourse mediates what counts as mathematical knowledge for students and teachers in classrooms. Influential documents such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathe- matics’s (1991, 2000) Professional Standards for Teaching Math- ematics and Principles and Standards for School Mathematics have called for teachers to emphasize communication that allows students to develop conceptual, or so-called higher level, under- standing of mathematics. According to these documents and other research on classroom discourse (e.g., Ball, 1993; Hiebert & Wearne, 1993; Kazemi, 1998; Kazemi & Stipek, 2001; Lampert, 1990, 1992; O’Conner, 1998; Whitenack & Yackel, 2002), such high-level communication consists, in large part, of encouraging students to present mathematical conjectures, pushing students to both explain and justify their conjectures to their colleagues, and otherwise promoting debate and discussion of mathematical ideas. At the very least, this body of work has indicated that extended conversations about mathematical ideas (as opposed to the simple statement and acceptance of “correct” answers) provide a neces- sary, but not sufficient, foundation for such high-level talk (Ball, 1991; Kazemi & Stipek, 2001). At the same time that interest in classroom discourse in math- ematics has risen, so has an alarm over the performance of U.S....
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2010 for the course C&I CI550 taught by Professor Markdressmen during the Fall '07 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.
- Fall '07