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Learning to Estimate in the Mathematics Classroom: A Conversation-Analytic Approach

Michael A. Forrester and Christopher D. Pike
Journal for Research in Mathematics Education
Vol. 29, No. 3 (May, 1998), pp. 334-356
DOI: 10.2307/749793
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/749793
Page Count: 23
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Learning to Estimate in the Mathematics Classroom: A Conversation-Analytic Approach
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Abstract

In contrast to contemporary estimation researchers who have focused primarily on children's computational estimation abilities, we examined the ideas surrounding the teaching and learning of measurement estimation in the classroom. Employing ethnomethodologically informed conversation analysis, we focused on 2 teachers' instructions during estimation lessons and on pupils' (aged 9-11 years) talk during small-group follow-up activities. The results indicated that estimation is understood as discursively interdependent with measurement and is associated both with teacher-formulated accountability and with vagueness, ambiguity, and guessing. Furthermore, the meaning of what it is to estimate is embedded in practical action. In concluding comments we consider the advantages of using conversational analysis as a method for highlighting the relationships between language and mathematics in the classroom.

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