# Teachers’ talk about the mathematical practice of attending to precision

## Abstract

The discipline of mathematics values precision and teachers are accountable for promoting and supporting their students in attending to precision (ATP), which in the USA is an explicit standard for mathematical practice included in the *Common Core State Standards for Mathematics*. This study used thematic discourse analysis to examine how eight middle and high school teachers understand and interpret the mathematical practice of ATP through discussion within a teacher learning community. Findings suggest that teachers’ talk prioritized the themes of precision with numerical quantities, precision with vocabulary, and precision with symbols. In many cases, these themes were discussed through examples from the teachers’ experiences with students and the focus was on being precise (or not) rather than attending to issues of precision. Their discourse also highlighted the teachers’ influential role in engaging their students in ATP and the relationship between ATP and student learning, with some teachers articulating a direct relationship of teachers explaining ATP to students and other teachers articulating a complex relationship of experiences via ATP. Overall, teachers’ perspectives on ATP provide insight into how they create opportunities for students to engage in ATP in their classrooms and may inform the development of shared meaning about ATP across the field.

## Keywords

Attending to precision Mathematical practices Teacher knowledge Discourse analysis## Notes

### Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the University of Missouri Research Council and the University of Missouri System Research Board (Grant No. URC-13-071). We thank Christopher Engledowl and Vickie Spain for their assistance on the project, and the participating teachers, who made this work possible.

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