The Tale of Two Teachers’ Use of Prompts in Mathematical Discussions


  • Karl W. Kosko Kent State University
  • Yang Gao Kent State University



Institutional obligation, mathematical discussion, practical rationality, teacher questioning


Facilitating mathematical discussions has consistently been identified as beneficial to students’ mathematical learning, with teachers’ use of questioning a primary identifier of appropriate facilitation. Although many teachers report familiarity with appropriate questioning techniques, we hypothesized that some teachers may not work in contexts where they can implement what they understand as best practices in their classroom. To explore this potential interaction, two primary teachers with similar dispositions towards mathematics pedagogy, but dissimilar institutional obligations were observed over a 10-week period. The types and frequencies of teachers’ questioning and their students’ responses during whole class mathematical discussions were observed. Despite both teachers holding similar conceptions of and dispositions towards facilitating mathematical discussion, the effectiveness of teachers’ various prompts in eliciting students’ mathematical descriptions was substantially different. Findings suggest that differences in the respective teachers’ institutional obligations may have affected the effectiveness of one teacher’s probing questions.


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How to Cite

Karl W. Kosko, & Yang Gao. (2016). The Tale of Two Teachers’ Use of Prompts in Mathematical Discussions. Issues and Ideas in Education, 4(2), 111–130.



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