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Language practices in school mathematics: A social semiotic perspective

Chapman, Anne Patricia (1992) Language practices in school mathematics: A social semiotic perspective. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis investigates the relationship between language and learning in school mathematics. It is argued that there is a- recent trend in perspectives on the study of language and mathematics away from early constructivist-oriented approaches towards a concern with the social, interactive nature of meaning and learning. Following this trend, this thesis works within a social semiotic perspective to argue that mathematical meanings are constructed in part through specific language practices and formations. Moreover, it is argued that learning mathematics requires transformational shifts between 'less mathematical' language and 'more mathematical' language.

An empirical investigation was made of the spoken language of the teacher and learners in a Year Nine mathematics class over a ten week school term. Close analyses of transcripts provide a descriptive account of the language practices characteristic of school mathematics. Multiple transformational shifts between less mathematical language and more mathematical language are found to be a dominant feature. Transformational strategies of the teacher, and student responses, are identified. A model is proposed where mathematical meanings are constructed within the shift towards increasingly mathematical language.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Willis, Sue and Kissane, Barry
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