Teachers' orientations toward and interactions with students' writing in high school mathematics

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University of Delaware
The purpose of this study is to investigate different aspects of teachers’ orientations toward students’ writing in high school mathematics. I used an embedded case study design (Yin, 2018) across the cases of three teachers whose instruction had previously been found to be dialogically focused – i.e., made use of high-level tasks, presented opportunities to share multiple representations or strategies, and included a focus on student discourse (Munter et al., 2015). I first interviewed each teacher to capture their described orientations toward writing in regard to math teaching and learning. I then conducted four observations of each teacher’s instruction to detail the types of interactions that they had with students’ writing. Finally, I conducted post-observations with each teacher to gain insight into their own interpretations of their observed lessons. My findings indicate that these teachers recognized writing as a tool to support student communication and reasoning, but that they situated writing as an embedded practice informed by their views on discourse and student self-efficacy. I also found that these participants enacted a range of interactions across different types of writing tasks, indicating that – while certain types of tasks may support more student-directed interactions – the teacher still plays a significant role as a facilitator of classroom discourse. This dissertation contributes to the field by suggesting approaches for better capturing factors that influence math teachers’ orientations toward writing, and by indicating how noticing activities that include multiple mediums of evidence of student thinking might help such teachers to adopt a stance of inquiry (van Es & Sherin, 2021) toward students’ writing.
Discourse, Mathematics writing, Teachers' orientations, Assessing questions, Teacher noticing