Teachers’ understanding and use of mathematical structure

Mark Gronow*, Joanne Mulligan, Michael Cavanagh

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Mathematical structure is central to the interconnectedness of numerical, spatial or logical relationships, but it is not known how well teachers understand this concept or implement it in pedagogical practice. In this paper, we examine three junior secondary mathematics teachers’ understanding of mathematical structure and observe whether they apply it in their teaching. Case study data comprised teacher interviews and mathematics lesson observations. Analysis of interviews and teacher-directed communication (utterances) in lessons utilised an emergent framework for categorising mathematical structure: connections to other learning (C), recognising patterns (R), identifying similarities and differences (I) and generalising and reasoning (G). Findings from the interviews indicated that teachers supported the development of mathematical structure, but the interview responses were not generally reinforced by their utterances in mathematics lesson observations. Analysis of teacher utterances revealed superficial understanding and use of mathematical structure although there was some evidence of CRIG components in the teacher-directed communication for individual cases.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages26
    JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Jun 2020


    • mathematical structure
    • mathematics
    • pedagogy
    • professional learning
    • secondary


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