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Meaning dimensions in mathematical subject language in different content areas in TIMSS and their relation to the results of high and low performing students
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Education.
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Keyword [en]
disciplinary literacy, mathematics education, language, TIMSS
Keyword [sv]
Disciplinary literacy, matematikundervisning, språk, TIMSS
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-282155OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-282155DiVA: diva2:919335
Available from: 2016-04-13 Created: 2016-04-04 Last updated: 2016-06-01
In thesis
1. Bokstavligt, bildligt och symboliskt i skolans matematik: – en studie om ämnesspråk i TIMSS
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bokstavligt, bildligt och symboliskt i skolans matematik: – en studie om ämnesspråk i TIMSS
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of mathematical subject language regarding three semiotic resources, written language, images and mathematical symbols. The theses also investigates high- and low-performingstudents encounter with mathematical subject language.

Based on previous research on language and from a theoretical foundation based on systemic functional linguistics (SFL) and social semiotics, four meaning dimensions – packing, precision, personification and presentation – were identified as central in academic language in general and in mathematical subject language. A didactically based reception theoretical perspective has been used for an analysis of high and low achieving students' encounter with the mathematical subject language.

The thesis comprises three studies each examining the mathematical subject language in TIMSS 2011 from various angles. The analyzes were conducted on four content areas algebra, statistics, geometry and arithmetic in the Swedish version of the international study Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011 (TIMSS).

In a summary, the results showed that the mathematical subject language was used in different ways in the four content areas in TIMSS where colloquial and subject-specific forms of languages had different roles and were expressed in varying degrees by the written language, images and mathematical symbols. Thus each content area was expressed by its own register which means that is not sufficient to talk about mathematical subject language as one single language.

The result shows that two forms of language, subject specific and everyday language were used parallel in the TIMSS material. The subject specific forms were most salient in algebra and geometry and the more everyday forms of language were more common in statistics and arithmetic.

The results from the correlation analyses indicated that fewer students managed the encounter with tasks in algebra and geometry when they were expressed by subject specific language. In contrast, the results indicated that students were able handle the encounter with the more colloquial expressions of the content areas statistics and arithmetic.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 102 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Educational Sciences, 10
mathematical subject language, systemic functional linguistics, social semiotics, semiotic resources, students, disciplinary literacy, mathematics education, TIMSS
National Category
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-284096 (URN)978-91-554-9570-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-06-03, Bertil Hammersalen, 24:K104,, von Kraemers allé 1, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-05-13 Created: 2016-04-15 Last updated: 2016-06-01

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