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Examining the Types of Mathematical Tasks Used to Explore the Mathematics Instruction by Elementary School Teachers

DOI: 10.4236/ce.2013.46056, PP. 396-404

Keywords: Mathematics Instruction, Mathematical Tasks, Task Implementation

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This study examined the different types of mathematical tasks used in the classroom to explore the nature of mathematics instruction of three sixth grade teachers in an elementary school. Case studies, instructional observations, and classroom artifacts were used to collect data. The results showed that the three teachers used different types of mathematical tasks and implementation methods. One teacher focused on high cognitive demand tasks, most of which involved substantial group discussion and students working cooperatively. Even though the other two also used many high cognitive demand tasks, these were mainly presented via teacher-student dialogue. By examining the types of mathematical tasks and their implementation, it was found that the group discussion tasks were generally all high cognitive demand tasks, in which the students fully explained the solution process. As for the tasks administered through teacher-student dialogue, due to the usage of large amounts of closed-ended dialogue, the students used low cognition to solve the mathematical tasks and did not have the opportunity to completely explain their thinking about the solutions. Thus, in order to fully understand the nature of mathematics instruction by teachers, there should be simultaneous consideration of the types of mathematical tasks used as well as how the tasks were implemented.


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