Thematic Analysis of Students’ Talk While Solving a Real-world Problem in Geometry

From a social semiotic perspective, students’ use of language is fundamental to mathematical meaning making. We applied thematic analysis to examine students’ use of geometric and contextual ideas while solving a geometry problem that required them to determine the optimal location for a new grocery store on a map of their local community. Students established semantic patterns to connect the problem context to geometry. Groups differed in how they used geometry in their discussion of the solution, in particular with how students used distance to describe the location of a new grocery store. Overall, students’ knowledge of the problem context served as a resource for them to establish geometric meanings. Thematic analysis, which describes the connections in students’ talk between out-of-school and discipline-specific knowledge, highlights ways in which instruction can build upon students’ prior experiences for the purpose of learning in school.

DeJarnette, A. F., & González, G. (2016). Thematic analysis of students’ talk while solving a real-world problem in Geometry. Linguistics and Education, 35, 37-49.