Mathematical micro-identities: Moment-to-moment positioning and learning in a fourth-grade classroom

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78 Scopus citations


Identity is an important tool for understanding students' participation in mathematics lessons. Researchers usually examine identity at a macro-scale: across typical classroom activity and in students' self-reports. However, learning occurs on a micro-scale: in moments during a lesson. To capture identity in these moments, I used positioning theory to develop a frame-work of micro-identity and then to examine the identities and learning of 1 fourth-grade student during 1 mathematics lesson. This study demonstrates how mathematical identities can shift in dramatic ways in response to minor changes in context so that a student might be, in one moment, engaged in an identity that undermines learning and then later engaged in an academically productive identity. These shifting micro-identities have important implications for mathematical learning, classroom contexts, and macro-identities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-808
Number of pages34
JournalJournal for Research in Mathematics Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Classroom interactions
  • Discourse
  • Identity
  • Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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