Communication Skills in Mathematics Discourse
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According to Catherine A. Stein of the National Council of Teachers in Mathematics (NCTM) mathematical discourse is the way students represent, think, talk, question, agree, and disagree in the classroom (National Council of Teachers in Mathematics, 2012). While constructivist practices regularly prove to be effective at satisfying deeper conceptual understanding, methods are highly dependent on student willingness to engage in and sustain meaningful discourse with their peers, which can be a challenging endeavor for even the most experienced instructor. This study evaluates the effectiveness of coaching middle school mathematics students on foundational communication skills in an effort to enhance participation in mathematical discourse. Research is conducted using a mixed-method action research methodology, investigating student perceptions about discourse and the usefulness of instruction on active listening skills prior to peer interaction. Analysis of quantitative and qualitative data reveal that communication-specific coaching increases overall participation levels in classroom discourse, as shown by student engagement, student attitudes and perceptions on discourse, and student self-reflection rubrics. Implications from this research provide insight on the effect of using accountability measures specifically for discourse related behavior.