Student talk and opportunities for mathematical learning in small group interactions

Marcy B. Wood, Crystal A. Kalinec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Small group interactions are an important tool for mathematical learning and yet researchers have neither examined small group talk across entire lessons nor have they focused on moments of mathematical learning in small groups. We examined such talk and identified kinds of interactions and connections between interactions and mathematical learning. We differentiated talk based upon its focus: mathematical objects (mathematizing), people (subjectifying), or more specifically, people's attributes (identifying). Most of the talk focused on what students were doing or should be doing as opposed to focusing on mathematics. Students also spent considerable time on identifying - talk that revolved around people and their features. Also, there was a struggle over who could talk and about what. In spite of limited mathematical talk, we found evidence of mathematical learning during the task. These findings support a number of conjectures about learners' vision of their roles as their peers' teachers or students and the way this vision impacts learning interactions and learning outcomes. It also leads to several suggestions about how to enhance learning in small groups as well as about areas for future research into student interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research
StatePublished - 2012


  • Group interactions
  • Identity
  • Mathematical learning
  • Mathematizing
  • On task talk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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