Detailing Relational Interactions in Urban Elementary Mathematics Classrooms

Dan Battey, Rebecca A. Neal


The lack of quality of instruction in urban mathematics classrooms has received much attention in the scholarly literature. Other classroom mechanisms such as relational interactions, however, have not received much attention of mathematics education researchers. Relational interactions go above and beyond content instruction to pass on messages about who is mathematically able, whose mathematical contributions are valid, and whose cultural practices are legitimized. Examining lessons across seven classrooms, this exploratory study documented five dimensions of relational interactions: addressing behavior, framing mathematics ability, acknowledging student contributions, attending to language and culture, and setting the emotional tone. The frequency of the interactions differed significantly across the classrooms, as did the quality. Addressing behavior and acknowledging student contributions were commonly occurring dimensions though the first skewed negative and the latter positive.  The article details the varied ways in which the seven teachers interacted with their African American and Latin@ students during mathematics instruction.


Mathematics Instruction; Urban Education; Relational Interactions; Equity

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