Investigating Knowledge-Building Through Communication: A Literature Review




Luna, Alyssa

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Classroom discourse has two avenues of conduct: communication led by the instructor, who is actively supporting the student as a means of organizing and regulating thought, and communication led by the student, who is supporting another student through the extraction and mediation of thought. Research in the teaching and learning of mathematics has shown that discourse between teacher and student is structured in a way that unintentionally trivializes mathematical concepts through the use of the instructional technique, path-smoothing. The consistent use of path-smoothing as a discursive technique has the potential to hinder the self-mediation and organization of student thought in the long run. Consequently, mathematics students, new to the techniques of proof, may struggle in understanding the purpose and systemization behind a mathematical argument because they have yet to experience the kind of discussion that allows them to construct and critique independent thoughts. The purpose of this thematic literature review is to discuss some shortcomings of teacher-supported discourse and evaluate the potential strengths of student-supported discourse as long-term cognitive-support leading into proof-based mathematics. Accordingly, the question being investigated is "How does the use of social interaction support the assessment of material during the organization of student cognitive thought in a proof-based mathematics course?" In order to establish comprehensive familiarity with discursive activity in the classroom, the author has attempted to synthesize the relevant findings of 30 articles extracted from educational periodicals and peer-reviewed journals. Through the qualitative text that was resourced a challenge regarding teacher-to-student discourse was outlined: the use of expository social negotiation between teacher and student has the potential to lead the students through a path of unsustained learning. The results of this research point to student-to-student discourse as an authentic learning experience that creates relevance to course material in which knowledge can be constructed and then applied in other wider aspects.


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classroom communication, classroom discourse, commognition, conceptual understanding, social constructivism, student experience