Group work and Collaboration in Mathematics

A primary goal of group work in mathematics classes is for students to engage in collaborative learning, where students equitably contribute ideas and co-construct mathematical understandings through their interactions with one another. Because collaboration cannot be assumed as a by-product of pair or group work, I have been investigating the nature of students' interactions when they work together in pairs and groups, both with and without the use of technology. I have written about how, when students use a computer environment, their conversations about mathematics become deeply embedded in the language of the environment and in their division of labor around the computer. Along with two co-authors, I have studied how students' positioning towards one another can promote reasoning and sense making during group work, and how teachers can promote productive small-group discussions among students. We have also considered how teachers scaffold group work when students who have little experience in such a setting work together on an open-ended problem.