The University of Montana
Department of Mathematical Sciences

Technical report #22/2008

A Morphology of Teacher Discourse in the Mathematics Classroom

Libby Knott
University of Montana

Bharath Sriraman
The University of Montana


Irv Jacob


Discourse in mathematics classrooms is surprisingly complex and both student and teacher mathematical discourse contain distinct, identifiable elements. Student discourse is necessarily focused on understanding concepts and solving mathematical problems. Teacher discourse contains some of these same elements, but when examined critically it gives rise to major distinctions. Teacher discourse is directed at improving student understanding and also the logistics of the classroom, and thus is often meta-mathematical in nature. We shine a light on the tactics teachers use which are part of meta-mathematical discourse such as re-voicing, redirecting, questioning, clarifying. Contrasts are explored between student and teacher discourse.

Keywords: discourse morphology; discourse tactics; discourse tools; meta-mathematical discourse; student discourse; teacher discourse

AMS Subject Classification: 97

Download Technical Report: pdf (87 KB)

Pre-print of paper in press in International Journal of Mathematics Education Policy and Practice