An Integral Part of Facilitating Mathematical Discussions: Follow-up Questioning


This study explores the relationship between students’ perceptions and teachers’ discourse practices in mathematics classrooms. It reframes the sequence of Initiate-Response-Follow-up (IRF) with a renewed discourse structure that focuses on teachers’ follow-up actions including listening, thoughtful questioning, and effective talk moves. Specifically, the study analyzes how these follow-up actions were related to positive student perceptions about their teachers’ discourse practices around sustaining productive discussions in mathematics classrooms. Participants were secondary mathematics teachers (n = 57) and their students (n = 875) in U.S. schools. The study first considered the students’ perceptions of their teachers’ discourse practices, identifying which teachers were perceived by students to implement mathematics discussions. Next, the study identified and examined patterns of teacher practices in discussions—the teachers’ talk moves, duration, and frequency in asking follow-up questions. Findings indicate that the teachers identified by students as promoting mathematics discussion tended to ask follow-up questions that increased and sustained students’ participation in mathematics discussions. What this finding implies is that in asking follow-up questions, the teacher listened and responded to students’ ideas, and students felt heard. The study asserts that there is much potential for enhancing mathematics instruction by learning more about how teachers listen to and build on students’ responses.

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Correspondence to Hee-Jeong Kim.

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Lim, W., Lee, J., Tyson, K. et al. An Integral Part of Facilitating Mathematical Discussions: Follow-up Questioning. Int J of Sci and Math Educ 18, 377–398 (2020).

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  • Mathematical discourse
  • Listening
  • Follow-up actions
  • Talk moves