Characterizing Reading Comprehension of Mathematical Texts
- 495 Downloads
This study compares reading comprehension of three different texts: two mathematical texts and one historical text. The two mathematical texts both present basic concepts of group theory, but one does it using mathematical symbols and the other only uses natural language. A total of 95 upper secondary and university students read one of the mathematical texts and the historical text. Before reading the texts, a test of prior knowledge for both mathematics and history was given and after reading each text, a test of reading comprehension was given. The results reveal a similarity in reading comprehension between the mathematical text without symbols and the historical text, and also a difference in reading comprehension between the two mathematical texts. This result suggests that mathematics in itself is not the most dominant aspect affecting the reading comprehension process, but the use of symbols in the text is a more relevant factor. Although the university students had studied more mathematics courses than the upper secondary students, there was only a small and insignificant difference between these groups regarding reading comprehension of the mathematical text with symbols. This finding suggests that there is a need for more explicit teaching of reading comprehension for texts including symbols.
Keywordsliteracy mathematical texts mental representation reading comprehension symbols university upper secondary level
- Adams, T.L.: 2003, ‘Reading mathematics: More than words can say’, The Reading Teacher 56(8), 786–795.Google Scholar
- Borasi, R. and Siegel, M.: 1990, ‘Reading to learn mathematics: New connections, new questions, new challenges’, For the Learning of Mathematics 10(3), 9–16.Google Scholar
- Borasi, R. and Siegel, M.: 1994, ‘Reading, writing and mathematics: Rethinking the “basics” and their relationship’, in F. Robitaille, D.H. Wheeler and C. Kieran (eds.), Selected Lectures From the 7th International Congress on Mathematical Education: Québec, 17–23 August 1992, Presses de l'Université Laval, Sainte-Foy [Québec], pp. 35–48.Google Scholar
- Brunner, R.B.: 1976, ‘Reading mathematical exposition’, Educational Research 18, 208–213.Google Scholar
- Brändström, A.: 2005, Differentiated Tasks in Mathematics Textbooks: An Analysis of the Levels of Difficulty, Licentiate Thesis, Department of Mathematics, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.epubl.ltu.se/1402-1757/2005/18/LTU-LIC-0518-SE.pdf.
- Defence, A.: 1994, The Readability of the Mathematics Textbook: With Special Reference to the Mature Student, Master Theses, The Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/ftp04/MQ44873.pdf.
- Ernest, P.: 1987, ‘A model of the cognitive meaning of mathematical expressions’, The British Journal of Educational Psychology 57, 343–370.Google Scholar
- Fenwick, C.: 2001, ‘Students and their learning from reading’, Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal 24, 52–58.Google Scholar
- Foxman, D.: 1999, Mathematics Textbooks Across the World: Some Evidence From the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), National Federation for Educational Research, Slough.Google Scholar
- Hubbard, R.: 1990, ‘Teaching mathematics reading and study skills’, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 21, 265–269.Google Scholar
- Johansson, M.: 2003, Textbooks in Mathematics Education: A Study of Textbooks as the Potentially Implemented Curriculum, Licentiate Thesis, Department of Mathematics, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.epubl.luth.se/1402-1757/2003/65/LTU-LIC-0365-SE.pdf.
- Kintsch, W.: 1998, Comprehension: A Paradigm for Cognition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
- Love, E. and Pimm, D.: 1996, ‘This is so: A text on texts’, in A.J. Bishop et al. (eds.), International Handbook of Mathematics Education, Kluwer, Dordrecht, pp. 371–409.Google Scholar
- McKenna, M.C. and Robinson, R.D.: 1990, ‘Content literacy: a definition and implications’, Journal of Reading 34, 184–186.Google Scholar
- Morgan, C.: 1998, Writing Mathematically: The Discourse of Investigation, Falmer, London.Google Scholar
- Niss, M. and Højgaard Jensen, T. (eds.): 2002, Kompetencer og Matematiklæring – Ideer og Inspiration til udvikling af Matematikundervisning i Danmark, Report no. 18 – 2002, Undervisningsministeriets forlag, Copenhagen. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.pub.uvm.dk/2002/kom/hel.pdf
- österholm, M.: 2004, Läsa Matematiska texter: Förståelse och Lärande i Läsprocessen [Reading Mathematical Texter: Understanding and Learning in the Reading Process], Licentiate Thesis, Department of Mathematics, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.ep.liu.se/lic/science_technology/11/34/digest.pdf.
- Pimm, D.: 1989, Speaking Mathematically: Communication in Mathematics Classrooms (paperback edition), Routledge, London.Google Scholar
- Shuard, H. and Rothery, A.: 1984, Children Reading Mathematics, London: Murray.Google Scholar
- Solomon, Y. and O'Neill, J.: 1998, ‘Mathematics and narratives’, Language and Education 12 (3), 210–221. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.channelviewpublications.net/le/012/0210/le0120210.pdf
- Turnau, S.: 1983, ‘The mathematical textbook - a problem of mathematics education’, ZDM Zentralblatt ür Didaktik der Mathematik 15 (4), 168–173.Google Scholar
- Van Dijk, T.A. and Kintsch, W.: 1983, Strategies of Discourse Comprehension, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
- Van Oostendorp, H. and Goldman, S.R. (eds.): 1998, The Construction of Mental Representations During Reading, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, N.J.Google Scholar
- Watkins, A.E.: 1977, The Effect of the Symbols and Structures of Mathematical English on the Reading Comprehension of College Students, Doctoral Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
- Weaver, C.A., Mannes, S. and Fletcher, C.R. (eds.): 1995, Discourse Comprehension: Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch, Erlbaum, Hillsdale.Google Scholar
- Woodrow, D.: 1982, ‘Mathematical symbolism’, Visible Language 16, 289–302.Google Scholar