Making Student Explanations Relevant in Whole Class Discussion

  • Jenni IngramEmail author
  • Nick Andrews
  • Andrea Pitt
Part of the ICME-13 Monographs book series (ICME13Mo)


Students explaining their mathematics is vital to the teaching and learning of mathematics, yet we know little about how to enable and support students to explain in whole class discussions beyond teachers asking particular questions. In this chapter we use a conversation analytic approach to explore the interactional structures that make student explanations relevant. Through a detailed examination of interactions where a student explanation occurs, three distinct structures are identified where a student explanation is perceived to be relevant. Our focus in the analysis is the social actions students themselves do in their explanations to display their interpretation of the interaction as requiring an explanation and constraining the type of explanation. However, these structures also offer ways that teachers can use the structure of interaction to encourage students to offer explanations in their responses.


Conversation analysis Explanations Classroom interaction Preference Conditional relevance 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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