Searching for common ground: Developing mathematical reasoning through dialogue

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Philosophiae Doctor Educationis
Title Searching for common ground: Developing mathematical reasoning through dialogue
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
In the majority of the schools in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, teaching and learning
takes place in the second language, English, of both teachers and learners. The purpose of this
research was to elicit the perceptions of teachers in multilingual mathematics classes about
language issues that they encounter and to ascertain whether they could experientially learn
the theory of dialogic teaching through an intervention in order to introduce dialogue in
practice in their classes. The effect of the intervention on teacher practices was qualitatively
observed and the effect of the teacher practices on learner reasoning competence, numeracy
competence and English language competence was quantitatively tested by using validated
pre- and post-tests.
The study follows a mixed method concurrent triangulation design with both
quantitative and qualitative results. Two cohorts of students/teachers studying for
qualifications at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University centres throughout the Eastern
Cape expressed their opinions about language challenges and solutions through
questionnaires, reflective writing and poetry. A cohort of BEd Honours (Mathematics and
Science) students experienced a semester long intervention on the theory and practice of
dialogic teaching, particularly exploratory talk, and were tasked to introduce the practice into
their multilingual mathematics classes in the form of reported action research. The next phase
of the study focussed on the practices of three teachers and their grade seven multilingual
mathematics learners who were observed and tested over a period of nine months. The
following year the observations and testing were repeated with one teacher and his grade
seven learners to ascertain whether the intervention would result in similar findings

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