Pedagogical Tensions in Teacher’s Questioning Practices in the Mathematics Classroom: A Case in Mainland China
Lianchun Dong 1  
More details
Hide details
Minzu University of China, College of Sciences, Beijing, CHINA
Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, AUSTRALIA
Online publish date: 2017-11-02
Publish date: 2017-11-02
EURASIA J. Math., Sci Tech. Ed 2018;14(1):167–181
During the last decades, curriculum reform has been implemented in mainland China to emphasize classroom interaction in mathematics teaching and learning. The intention to create more chances for classroom interaction in large-size classrooms has led to the introduction of self-learning guide which allows students to go through the learning contents before the classroom learning. This study investigates the pedagogical tensions emerging in a mainland Chinese mathematics teacher’s practices of using self-learning guide to reform classroom questioning. The analytical entry point is the examination of the IRF (Initiation/Response/Follow-up) structures evident in the reform-based mathematics classroom interactions. The results show that, by using various reform-based questioning strategies, students were given adequate opportunities to present and share their mathematical thinking and ideas. The nature of the pedagogical tensions has shifted from imbalance of time allocation for classroom discussion and lecturing to imbalance of opportunities for guided classroom discussion and elaborated classroom discussion.
Agyei, D., & Voogt, J. (2014). Examining factors affecting beginning teachers’ transfer of learning of ICT-enhanced learning activities in their teaching practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 30(1).
Aizikovitch-Udi, A., Clarke, D., & Star, J. (2013). Good questions or good questioning: An essential issue for effective teaching. Paper presented at CERME8: 8th Congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education. Antalya, Turkey.
Ball, D. (1993). With an eye on the mathematical horizon: Dilemmas of teaching elementary school mathematics. The Elementary School Journal, 93, 373-397.
Bergmann J., & Sams A. (2012). Flip your classroom: reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.
Berry, A. (2007). Reconceptuatlizing teacher educator knowledge as tensions: Exploring the tension between valuing and experience. Studying Teacher Education, 3(2), 117–134.
Boaler, J., & Brodie, K. (2004). The importance, nature and impact of teacher questions. Proceedings of the 26th annual meeting of the North American chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (Vol. 2, pp. 773-781). Toronto, Ontario, Canada: PME.
Borich, G. (2007). Effective teaching methods: research-based practice (6th edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
Brodie, K. (2007). Dialogue in mathematics classrooms: beyond question-and-answer methods. Pythagoras, 66, 3-13.
Butler, D. L. (2002). Individualizing instruction in self-regulated learning. Theory into Practice, 41(2), 81-92.Cai, J., & Cifarelli, V. (2004). Thinking mathematically by Chinese learners. In L. Fan, N.-Y. Wong, J. Cai, & S. Li (Eds.), How Chinese learn mathematics: Perspectives from insiders (pp. 71–106). River Edge, NJ: World Scientific Press.
Cai, J., & Lester, J. (2005). Solution representations and pedagogical representations in Chinese and U.S. classrooms. Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 24, 221–237.
Cazden, C. B. (2001). Classroom discourse: The language of teaching and learning. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd edition). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Drageset, O. G. (2014). How Students Explain and Teachers Respond. In J. Anderson, M. Cavanagh & A. Prescott (Eds.). Curriculum in focus: Research guided practice-Proceedings of the 37th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia (pp. 191–198). Sydney: MERGA.
Franke, M. L., Kazemi, E., & Battey, D. (2007). Mathematics teaching and classroom practice. In F. K. Lester (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 225-256).Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Franke, M. L., Webb, N. M., Chan, A. G., Ing, M., Freund, D., & Battey, D. (2009). Teacher questioning to elicit students’ mathematical thinking in elementary school classrooms. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(4), 380-392.
Fregola, C. (2011). Epistemological framework and mathematical learning. In Piu, A. (Ed.). Simulation and Gaming for Mathematical Education: Epistemology and Teaching Strategies: Epistemology and Teaching Strategies (pp. 1-14). New York, NY: IGI Global.
Guan, Q., & Meng, W. (2007). China’s new national curriculum reform: Innovation, challenges and strategies. Frontiers of Education in China, 2(4), 579-604.
Hiebert, J., & Wearne, D. (1993). Instructional tasks, classroom discourse, and students’ learning in second-grade arithmetic. American educational research journal, 30(2), 393-425.
Kawanaka, T., & Stigler, J. W. (1999). Teachers’ use of questions in eighth-grade mathematics classrooms in Germany, Japan, and the United States. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 1(4), 255-278.
Kennedy, M. (2006). Knowledge and vision in teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 205-211.
Koedinger, K. R., Booth, J. L., & Klahr, D. (2013). Instructional complexity and the science to constrain it. Science, 342(6161), 935-937.
Koizumi, Y. (2013). Similarities and differences in teachers’ questioning in German and Japanese mathematics classrooms. ZDM, 45(1), 47-59.
Kosko, K. W., Rougee, A., & Herbst, P. (2014). What actions do teachers envision when asked to facilitate mathematical argumentation in the classroom? Mathematics Education Research Journal, 26(3), 459-476.
Law, W. W. (2014). Understanding China’s curriculum reform for the 21st century. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 46(3), 332-360.
Leung, F. K. S. (2005). Some characteristics of East Asian mathematics classrooms based on data from the TIMSS 1999 Video Study. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 60(2), 199-215.
Leung, F. K. (2001). In search of an East Asian identity in mathematics education. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 47(1), 35-51.
Li, Q., & Ni, Y. (2011). Impact of curriculum reform: Evidence of change in classroom practice in mainland China. International Journal of Educational Research, 50(2), 71-86.
Ma, Y. P., Yin, H. B., Tang, L. F., & Liu, L. Y. (2009). Teacher receptivity to system-wide curriculum reform in the initiation stage: a Chinese perspective. Asia Pacific Education Review, 10(3), 423-432.
Manouchehri, A., & Goodman, T. (1998). Mathematics curriculum reform and teachers: Understanding the connections. The Journal of Educational Research, 92(1), 27-41.
Mesa, V., Celis, S., & Lande, E. (2014). Teaching approaches of community college mathematics faculty: Do they relate to classroom practices? American Educational Research Journal, 51, 117-151. doi:10.3102/0002831213505759.
Mesa, V., & Lande, E. (2014). Methodological considerations in the analysis of classroom interaction in community college trigonometry. In Y. Li, E. A. Silver, & S. Li (Eds.), Transforming math instruction: Multiple approaches and practices (pp. 475-500). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Springer.
Ministry of Education (2001). Curriculum Standards for Year 1-9 School Mathematics (Trail) [in Chinese]. Beijing: Beijing Normal University Publisher.
Ministry of Education (2011). Curriculum Standards for Year 1-9 School Mathematics (Revised) [in Chinese]. Beijing: Beijing Normal University Publisher.
Ministry of Education (2013). Number of Schools, Educational Personnel and Full-time Teachers by Type and Level. Resource document. Ministry of Education (China). Retrieved on 03 December 2015 from
Nathan, M. J., & Kim, S. (2009). Regulation of teacher elicitations in the mathematics classroom. Cognition and Instruction, 27(2), 91-120.
OECD (2010). PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do – Student Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I). Resource document. OECD Publishing. doi:10.1787/9789264091450-en [Accessed 13 November 2015].
OECD (2014). PISA 2012 Results: What Students Know and Can Do – Student Performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science (Volume I). Resource document. OECD Publishing. doi:10.1787/9789264201118-en [Accessed 13 November 2015].
OECD (2015). Education at a Glance 2015: OECD Indicators. Resource document. OECD Publishing. doi:10.1787/eag-2015-en [Accessed 13 November 2015].
Orrill, C. H. (2013). Connection Making: Capitalizing on the Affordances of Dynamic Representations through Mathematically Relevant Questioning. In Hegedus, S., & Roschelle, J. (Eds) The SimCalc Vision and Contributions (pp. 285-298). Netherlands: Springer.
Sahin, A., & Kulm, G. (2008). Sixth grade mathematics teachers’ intentions and use of probing, guiding, and factual questions. Journal of mathematics teacher education, 11(3), 221-241.
Scherrer, J., & Stein, M. K. (2012). Effects of a coding intervention on what teachers learn to notice during whole-group discussion. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education. doi:10.1007/s10857-012-9207-2.
Scott, P. H., Mortimer, E. F., & Aguiar, O. G. (2006). The tension between authoritative and dialogic discourse: A fundamental characteristic of meaning making interactions in high school science lessons. Science Education, 90(4), 605-631.
Sherin, M.G. (2002). A balancing act: developing a discourse community in a mathematics classroom. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 5(3), 205–33.
Smith, H., & Higgins, S. (2006). Opening classroom interaction: the importance of feedback. Cambridge journal of education, 36(4), 485-502.
Stein, M. K. (Ed.). (2000). Implementing standards-based mathematics instruction: A casebook for professional development. N.Y.: Teachers College Press.
Stein, M. K., Engle, R. A., Smith, M. S., & Hughes, E. K. (2008). Orchestrating productive mathematical discussions: Five practices for helping teachers move beyond show and tell. Mathematical thinking and learning, 10(4), 313-340.
Travers, N. L., & Scheckley, B. G. (2000). Changes in students’ self-regulation based on different teaching methodologies. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Institutional Research, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Tsay, J. J., Judd, A. B., Hauk, S., & Davis, M. K. (2011). Case study of a college mathematics instructor: patterns of classroom discourse. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 78(2), 205-229.
Tucker, B. (2012). The flipped classroom. Education Next, 12(1), 82-83.Walshaw, M., & Anthony, G. (2008). The teacher’s role in classroom discourse: A review of recent research into mathematics classrooms. Review of educational research, 78(3), 516-551.
Watkins, D. A., & Biggs, J. B. (1996). The Chinese learner: Cultural, psychological, and contextual influences. Hong Kong: CERC & ACER.
Wood, T. (1998). Alternative patterns of communication in mathematics classes: Funnelling or focusing: In H. Steinbring, M. Bartolini-Bussi & A. Sierpinska (Eds.), Language and communication in the mathematics classroom (pp. 167–178). Reston, VA: NCTM.
Zhang, Y. & Meng, Z. (2013). The value, limitation and mutualism of the guidance case teaching and the flipped classroom [In Chinese]. Global Education, 42(7), 10-17.
Zhao, Y. (2009). Catching up or leading the way: American education in the age of globalization. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Zhao, W., Mok, I. A. C., & Cao, Y. (2016). Curriculum reform in china: student participation in classrooms using a reformed instructional model. International Journal of Educational Research, 75, 88-101.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2002) Becoming a self-regulated learner: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41, 64–70.