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Mathematical Tasks and Student Cognition: Classroom-Based Factors That Support and Inhibit High-Level Mathematical Thinking and Reasoning

Marjorie Henningsen, Mary Kay Stein 

November 1997, Volume 28, Issue 5, Page 524

In order to develop students' capacities to "do mathematics," classrooms must become environments in which students are able to engage actively in rich, worthwhile mathematical activity. This paper focuses on examining and illustrating how classroom-based factors can shape students' engagement with mathematical tasks that were set up to encourage high-level mathematical thinking and reasoning. The findings suggest that when students' engagement is successfully maintained at a high level, a large number of support factors are present. A decline in the level of students' engagement happens in different ways and for a variety of reasons. Four qualitative portraits provide concrete illustrations of the ways in which students' engagement in high-level cognitive processes was found to continue or decline during classroom work on tasks.

Curriculum Developer
Conceptual Development
Reasoning and Proof