Using Student Discourse to Support Multiplication Fact Strategy Instruction
Thompson, Deborah Marie
University of Kansas
Curriculum and Teaching
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Abstract Basic multiplication fact fluency is an expected outcome of most third grade classrooms throughout the United States. Students need to know their multiplication facts. This statement does not seem to be under question; it is more about how will students learn their multiplication facts. The purpose of this study was to investigate the use of student discourse as part of third grade teachers’ fact strategy instruction and students’ use of fact strategies while learning basic multiplication facts. Quantitative and qualitative data were used to generate a picture of how student discourse supports fact strategy instruction. The semester-long study gathered data from participants using observations, interviews and written assessments. Four third-grade classroom teachers were observed on three separate occasions so information could be collected concerning the frequency of the various levels of questions asked during fact strategy lessons. Interviews were conducted at the end of the study to gather their insights into how discourse impacted their instruction and their students’ use of fact strategies. All students from the four classrooms were given pre- and post-tests targeting use of fact strategies. After the post-test, 22 students were selected to be interviewed in order to collect more detailed information about fact strategy implementation. This study used a descriptive, nonexperimental design utilizing a mixed methods approach. The descriptive statistics from the assessments and results from the interviews indicated that using student discourse to support fact strategy instruction was positive for the students and the teachers. During the semester, the teachers increased their use of higher-level questions in lessons about multiplication fact strategies. There was a significant increase of multiplication fact strategy use by the students over the course of the semester. During the interview, more students used fact strategies to solve multiplication fact problems; this increase could be attributed to the amount of discourse done in the classroom since the oral exchange in the interview was similar to classroom discussions. The teachers also reported they believed that student discourse positively impacted multiplication fact strategy implementation through increased number sense and reasoning skills.
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