Characterizing Reading Comprehension of Mathematical Texts
 Magnus Österholm
 … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discount
Rent now* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.
Get AccessAbstract
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.
 Adams, T.L.: 2003, ‘Reading mathematics: More than words can say’, The Reading Teacher 56(8), 786–795.
 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.
 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, SainteFoy [Québec], pp. 35–48.
 Brunner, R.B.: 1976, ‘Reading mathematical exposition’, Educational Research 18, 208–213.
 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/14021757/2005/18/LTULIC0518SE.pdf.
 Cowen, C.C.: 1991, ‘Teaching and testing mathematics reading’, American Mathematical Monthly 98(1), 50–53. CrossRef
 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.nlcbnc.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.
 Fenwick, C.: 2001, ‘Students and their learning from reading’, Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal 24, 52–58.
 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.
 Fuentes, P.: 1998, ‘Reading comprehension in mathematics’, Clearing House 72(2), 81–88. CrossRef
 Hubbard, R.: 1990, ‘Teaching mathematics reading and study skills’, International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 21, 265–269.
 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/14021757/2003/65/LTULIC0365SE.pdf.
 Kane, R.B.: 1968, ‘The readability of mathematical English’, Journal of Research in Science Teaching 5, 296–298. CrossRef
 Kintsch, W.: 1994, ‘Text comprehension, memory, and learning’, American Psychologist 49, 294–303. CrossRef
 Kintsch, W.: 1998, Comprehension: A Paradigm for Cognition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
 Konior, J.: 1993, ‘Research into the construction of mathematical texts’, Educational Studies in Mathematics24, 251–256. CrossRef
 Krygowska, Z.: 1969, ‘Le texte mathématique dans l'enseignement’, Educational Studies in Mathematics 2, 360–370. CrossRef
 Langer, J.A.: 1984, ‘Examining background knowledge and text comprehension’, Reading Research Quarterly19, 468–481. CrossRef
 Lithner, J.: 2004, ‘Mathematical reasoning in calculus textbook exercises’, Journal of Mathematical Behavior 23, 405–427. CrossRef
 Lorch, R.F. and van den Broek, P.: 1997, ‘Understanding reading comprehension: Current and future contributions of cognitive science’, Contemporary Educational Psychology 22, 213–246. CrossRef
 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.
 McKenna, M.C. and Robinson, R.D.: 1990, ‘Content literacy: a definition and implications’, Journal of Reading 34, 184–186.
 Morgan, C.: 1998, Writing Mathematically: The Discourse of Investigation, Falmer, London.
 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.
 Shuard, H. and Rothery, A.: 1984, Children Reading Mathematics, London: Murray.
 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.
 Van Dijk, T.A. and Kintsch, W.: 1983, Strategies of Discourse Comprehension, Academic Press, New York.
 Van Oostendorp, H. and Goldman, S.R. (eds.): 1998, The Construction of Mental Representations During Reading, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, N.J.
 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.
 Watkins, A.E.: 1979, ‘The symbols and grammatical structures of mathematical English and the reading comprehension of college students’, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 10, 216–218. CrossRef
 Weaver, C.A., Mannes, S. and Fletcher, C.R. (eds.): 1995, Discourse Comprehension: Essays in Honor of Walter Kintsch, Erlbaum, Hillsdale.
 VidalAbarca, E., Martínez, G. and Gilabert, R.: 2000, ‘Two procedures to improve instructional text: effects on memory and learning’, Journal of Educational Psychology 92(1), 107–116. CrossRef
 Woodrow, D.: 1982, ‘Mathematical symbolism’, Visible Language 16, 289–302.
 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
 Authors

 Magnus Österholm ^{(1)}
 Author Affiliations

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