Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2014 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Sociomathematical Norms in Mathematics Education

  • Michelle StephanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8_143


Sociomathematical norms are the normative criteria by which students within classroom communities create and justify their mathematical work. Examples include negotiating the criteria for what counts as a different, efficient, or sophisticated mathematical solution and the criteria for what counts as an acceptable mathematical explanation.


Social Norms

Social norms refer to the expectations that the teacher and students have for one another during academic discussions. Social norms are present in any classroom, including science and, English, for example. However, the social norms that are established within a student-centered classroom look very different from those in a traditional environment. Yackel and Cobb (1996) have documented at least four social norms that support student-centered instruction: Students are expected to (1) explain and justify their solutions and methods, (2) attempt to make sense of others’ explanations, (3) indicate agreement or...


Sociomath norms Social norms Emergent perspective Intellectual autonomy 
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Akyuz D (2012) The value of debts and credits. Math Teach Middle Sch 17(6):332–338Google Scholar
  2. Cobb P, Yackel E (1996) Constructivist, emergent, and sociocultural perspectives in the context of developmental research. Educ Psychol 31:175–190Google Scholar
  3. Dixon J, Andreasen J, Stephan M (2009) Establishing social and socio-mathematical norms in an undergraduate mathematics content course for prospective teachers: the role of the instructor. 6th monograph for the association of mathematics teacher educators, scholarly practices and inquiry in the preparation of mathematics teachers, pp 29–44Google Scholar
  4. Hershkowitz R, Schwarz B (1999) The emergent perspective in rich learning environments: some roles of tools and activities in the construction of socio-mathematical norms. Educ Stud Math 39:149–166Google Scholar
  5. Johnson A (2000) Sociophysics norms in an innovative physics learning environment. Paper presented to the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New OrleansGoogle Scholar
  6. Kaldrimidou M, Sakonidis H, Tzekaki M (2008) Comparative readings of the nature of the mathematical knowledge under construction in the classroom. ZDM Math Educ 40:235–245Google Scholar
  7. Levenson E, Tirosh D, Tsamir P (2006) Mathematically and practically-based explanations: individual preferences and socio-mathematical norms. Int J Sci Math 4:319–344Google Scholar
  8. McClain K (1995) The teacher’s proactive role in supporting students’ mathematical growth. Unpublished dissertation, Vanderbilt University, NashvilleGoogle Scholar
  9. Pang J (2001) Challenges of reform: utility of socio-mathematical norms. Paper presented to the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, SeattleGoogle Scholar
  10. Rasmussen C, Yackel E, King K (2003) Social and socio-mathematical norms in the mathematics classroom. In: Schoen H (ed) Teaching mathematics through problem solving: grades 6–12. NCTM, Reston, pp 143–154Google Scholar
  11. Shriki A, Lavy I (2005) Assimilating innovative learning/teaching approaches into teacher education: why is it so difficult? In: Chick H, Vincent J (eds) Proceedings of the 29th conference of the international group for the psychology of mathematics education, vol 4. PME, Melbourne, pp 185–192Google Scholar
  12. Stephan M, Whitenack J (2003) Establishing classroom social and socio-mathematical norms for problem solving. In: Lester F (ed) Teaching mathematics through problem solving: Prekindergarten-grade 6. NCTM, Reston, pp 149–162Google Scholar
  13. Yackel E, Cobb P (1996) Socio-mathematical norms, argumentation and autonomy in mathematics. J Res Math Educ 27:458–477Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education, Middle Secondary DepartmentThe University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA