Students, texts and mathematics : an analysis of mathematics texts and the construction of mathematics knowledge

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study deals with a systematic description of student production of mathematics texts and focused on written texts that appeared to be legitimate yet could not be upheld by a principled verbal description. A search of the literature on the analysis of students texts revealed that semiotic analysis, was not only scarce, but ideally suited to examining the social organisation of school mathematics practice. This study examines how student texts produced in response to typical school mathematics problems can, via a systematic analysis of texts, index the construction of mathematics knowledge. It outlines Dowlings' model of Social Activity Theory (1998) to produce a textual analysis which focuses on textual strategies to distribute message. These strategies and the message underpin the analysis. Practices that establish the message distributed indexes mathematics knowledge and curriculum practices. The notion of a mathematising gaze informing school practice was explored and was related to the construction of existing and pre-existing mathematics knowledge. To locate the effects of a mathematics gaze that could produce texts that lacked discursive elaboration in verbal discriptions, a comprehensive list of ideal types were developed to act as an interface between the empirical text produced that acted as a reading for constructive description of the theoretical terrain.

Bibliography: leaves 149-155.