“We are the maths people, aren’t we?” Young children’s talk in learning mathematics
Murphy, Carol Marjorie
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The research for this doctoral study focused on children’s learning in mathematics and its relationship with independent pupil-pupil talk. In particular the interest was in how younger lower attaining children (aged 6-7) exchanged meaning as they talked together within a mathematical task. The data for the doctoral study had been gathered as part of the Talking Counts Project which I directed with colleagues at the University of Exeter. The project developed an intervention to encourage exploratory talk in mathematics with younger lower attaining children. Video material and transcripts of the mathematics lessons from nine classrooms that were part of the TC Project were used as the data set for the doctoral study. The focus of the analysis was on the independent pupil-pupil talk from one pre intervention session and one post intervention session from these nine classrooms. In using an existing data base, analysis was carried out in more depth and from a new perspective. A Vygotskyan sociocultural approach was maintained but analysis of the learning in the doctoral study was refocused in line with theories of situated meaning in discourse and with theories of the emergence of mathematical objects. Hence my examination of the children’s learning for the doctoral study went beyond the original research carried out in the TC Project. Within an interpretivist paradigm the methods of analysis related to the functional use of the children’s language. Interpretations were made of the children’s speech acts and their use of functional grammar. This enabled a study of both social and emotional aspects of shared intentionality as well as personal, social and cultural constructs of mathematical objects. The findings suggested that, where the talk was productive, the children were using deixis in sharing intentions and that this use could be related to the exchange of meaning and objectifying deixis.
PhD in Education