Over the last 20 years, mathematics educators have observed and analyzed alternatives to recitation, a common talk format found in typical U.S. classrooms. In particular, a growing body of literature supports the use of discussion in mathematics class. Current research suggests that discussion can:
- Increase student learning
- Motivate students
- Support teachers in understanding and assessing student thinking
- Shift the mathematical authority from teacher (or textbook) to community
Discussion is a strategy that can support teachers in understanding what students already know and in determining what they still need to learn. In this sense, listening to students’ ideas in discussions can serve as formative assessment that helps teachers make decisions about instruction.