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Discourses and Agency in a Multilingual Mathematics Classroom
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
(English)In: Nordic Educational Research Working paper seriesArticle in journal (Refereed) Accepted
Abstract [en]

I challenge understandings of students with a foreign background in mathematics classrooms in Sweden as disadvantaged. Students are often pre-defined as unsuccessful and bilingualism is constructed as an obstacle in classrooms. I explore how discourses operate in a monolingually instructed mathematics classroom. Among various discourses mainly three are exercised, a reform-oriented mathematics discourse, a language supportive discourse and a discourse excluding student’s linguistic and cultural experiences. A language supportive discourse promotes a reform-oriented mathematics discourse, and occasionally operates towards normalization towards Swedishness. On the other hand a reform-oriented discourse supports a language supportive discourse. Within these discourses there is space for students’ agency, and students position themselves as engaged mathematics learners.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Education, Stockholm University.
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43506OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-43506DiVA: diva2:357441
Available from: 2010-10-18 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2011-10-20Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Flerspråkiga matematikklassrum: Diskurser i grundskolans matematikundervisning
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Flerspråkiga matematikklassrum: Diskurser i grundskolans matematikundervisning
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Multilingual Mathematics Classrooms : Discourses in Compulsory School in Sweden
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to investigate and analyze practices in multilingual mathematics classrooms in compulsory school in Sweden. By using ethnographic methods, mainly participant observation, data were collected in a number of multilingual mathematics classrooms in suburban areas of a major city. The data include field notes, interviews and informal conversations with students, teachers and school administrators. The analysis is based on a coordination of Foucault’s discourse theory and Skovsmose’s critical mathematics education. The socio-political viewpoint defines power as relational and as having an effect on school mathematics practices. Discourse, agency, foreground and identity are used as analytic tools. In five articles, the thesis investigates how the various discourses affect multilingual students’ agency, foreground and identity formation as engaged mathematics learners. The effects of students’ and teachers’ agency on discourse switching in multilingual mathematics classrooms are also investigated. The findings indicate that bilingual communication in the mathematics classroom enhances students’ identity formation as engaged mathematics learners. Language- and content-based instruction seems to do the same, though monolingual instruction may jeopardize students’ identities as bilinguals while the discourse may normalize Swedish and Swedishness exclusively. Focus on linguistic dimensions in mathematics build up a communicative reform-oriented school mathematics discourse. The competing and intersecting discourses available in the multilingual mathematics classroom affect students’ agency, foreground and identity formation as engaged mathematics learners. For example, a reform-oriented school mathematics discourse intersecting with a social-relational discourse affects students’ active agency allowing power relations to be negotiated. A principal conclusion is that the success or failure of multilingual students in multilingual mathematics classrooms cannot be explained in terms of language and cultural factors alone, but only in relation discourse, and to social and political conditions in society at large.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för matematikämnets och naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik, Stockholms universitet, 2010. 133 p.
Keyword
multilingual mathematics classrooms, discourse, Swedishness, agency, identities, foreground, ethnography, socio-political
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Mathematics Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-43510 (URN)978-91-7447-149-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-12-03, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Accepted. Paper 4: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.Available from: 2010-11-11 Created: 2010-10-18 Last updated: 2010-11-11Bibliographically approved

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