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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Culture, Social Interactions, and Mathematics Learning

Nicole Carignan, Dr Roland G. Pourdavood, Dr Belvia K. Martin.

This research report investigated connections between mathematics learning for five 3rd grade students (one African-American boy, one African-American girl, one Caucasian girl, one Asian boy, and one Middle-Eastern boy) and their cultural and social activities. In addition, researchers examined how small group interactions among these five students from diverse backgrounds may create learning opportunities for them. The research questions were:
1) How may cultural and social activities of students facilitate their mathematical learning?
2) How may social interactions among students with different cultural backgrounds influence their mathematical understanding?

Our theoretical and philosophical assumptions were that people construct, deconstruct, and reconstruct their knowing and understanding through the process of cultural participation, social interactions, and contribution to the local activities of the community. Construction of knowledge is inherently cultural and experiential. This descriptive qualitative research is grounded in constructivist inquiry (Lincoln and Guba, 1985, 1989, 1994). Data sources included audiotapes of classroom observations and one-on-one interviews with parents, students, and classroom teacher; audiotapes of students' group interview; field notes; and school documents. Data collection and data analysis occurred simultaneously. Based on emerging themes several categories were developed.

Our preliminary interpretation of the research data indicated that sociocultural situations significantly impacted students' attitudes and beliefs about themselves and toward mathematics learning. In addition, social interactions and dialogue among students created learning opportunities for them to become better problem solvers and better communicators. It seemed that teacher's content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge for establishing classroom norms had profound impact on some participating students' beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics.


Nicole Carignan  (Canada)
Département des sciences de l'éducation
Faculté d'éducation

Nicole Carignan is Assistant Professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM). She teaches intercultural education to undergraduate students who are pursuing their certification for teaching elementary and secondary schools. In addition, she supervises master theses and doctoral dissertations. Her research interest is in cultural diversity and intercultural aspects of education and learning. Furthermore, she is interested in emancipatory action research for personal and social praxis.

Dr Roland G. Pourdavood  (United States)
Associate Professor in Mathematic Education

Cleveland State University

Dr Belvia K. Martin  (United States)

  • Social interactions
  • Sociocultural Milieu
  • Students' attitudes and beliefs, Mathematics learning.

(30 min Conference Paper, English)