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Low-Performing Students and Teaching Fractions for Understanding: An Interactional Analysis

Susan B. Empson 

July 2003, Volume 34, Issue 4, Page 305

This article presents an analysis of two low-performing students' experiences in a firstgrade  classroom oriented toward teaching mathematics for understanding. Combining constructs from interactional sociolinguistics and developmental task analysis, I  investigate the nature of these students' participation in classroom discourse about  fractions. Pre- and post-instruction interviews documenting learning and analysis of classroom interactions suggest mechanisms of that learning. I propose that three main factors account for these two students' success: use of tasks that elicited the students' prior understanding, creation of a variety of participant frameworks (Goffman, 1981)  in which the students were treated as mathematically competent, and frequency of opportunities for identity-enhancing interactions.

Grade 1
Research Studies
Fractions / Decimals / Percents / Rational Numbers
Problem Solving / Problem Posing
Professional Development / Teacher Education