Secondary Mathematics Teachers’ Descriptions of Student Engagement

There is a need for a more robust conceptualization of engagement in mathematics education research. Investigating how teachers describe engagement can provide insight into relationships between purposes of engagement and dimensions of engagement. In this exploratory study, we examined how 28 secondary mathematics teachers in two states in the USA talked about their students’ engagement. During interviews, we asked teachers to provide their definitions for engagement, describe their teaching strategies for engaging students, and describe their observations of engagement during a video clip from their own classroom. We interpreted teachers’ talk to identify how they described the nature of mathematics engagement (dimensions such as behavioral, cognitive, affective, and/or social engagement) and purposes of engagement (engagement in learning or in schooling [Harris, 2011]). When teachers described the purpose of engagement as engagement in learning, they also tended to describe the nature of engagement with cognitive and social dimensions and with multiple dimensions of engagement.

Authors: Amanda Jansen, Kelly Curtis, Amanda Mohammad Mirzaei, Catherine E. Cullicott, Ethan P. Smith & James A. Middleton

April 10, 2023