Chapter 4: Engagement Structures and the Development of Mathematical Ideas

  • Lisa B. WarnerEmail author
  • Roberta Y. Schorr
Part of the Advances in Mathematics Education book series (AME)


We describe the relationship that exists between shifts in engagement and shifts in mathematical thinking, using the construct of engagement structures. The engagement structure construct (Goldin et al. 2011) is a way to account for and describe the complex dynamical interactions that recur as students solve mathematical problems. Our research is focused on a group of eighth grade students solving a problem in a group setting in an urban district. Our analysis involves video-recorded episodes, retrospective interviews and comprehensive field notes. We also document the social conditions present in the classroom that surrounded the shifts. Our findings suggest a variety of changes that can occur within an individual student, and across students in the same classroom, depending upon the social context. At times, changes in mathematical ideas preceded shifts in engagement, and vice-versa. Aside from the within student differences, our research provides an example of how, within the same classroom, students can have very different engagement and mathematical experiences.


Problem solving Student engagement Engagement structures Motivation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.William Paterson UniversityWayneUSA
  2. 2.Rutgers: The State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

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