Characterizing Reading Comprehension of Mathematical Texts
 Magnus Österholm
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Abstract
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.
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 Title
 Characterizing Reading Comprehension of Mathematical Texts
 Journal

Educational Studies in Mathematics
Volume 63, Issue 3 , pp 325346
 Cover Date
 20061101
 DOI
 10.1007/s106490059016y
 Print ISSN
 00131954
 Online ISSN
 15730816
 Publisher
 Kluwer Academic Publishers
 Additional Links
 Topics
 Keywords

 literacy
 mathematical texts
 mental representation
 reading comprehension
 symbols
 university
 upper secondary level
 Industry Sectors
 Authors

 Magnus Österholm ^{(1)}
 Author Affiliations

 1. Department of Mathematics, Linköping University, SE – 581 83, Linköping, Sweden