Using Vocabulary to Enhance the Understanding of Mathematics as a Language

Jennifer Monaco, Leah A. Nillas

Research output: Faculty Advisor of Undergraduate Research


Mathematics vocabulary is not often a focus in the mathematics classroom; however, it is found that acquiring new vocabulary enables students to communicate better mathematically, which allows teachers to gauge student understanding. Bay-Williams and Livers (2009) discuss the importance of making connections between previous concepts and new material, so students can apply knowledge and explore and engage on an individual level. Monaco's self-study focuses on two main topics: types of activities that help students learn mathematical concepts and the advantages of reading, writing and speaking mathematics. She conducted the study in three geometry classes and one fundamental geometry class at a rural high school in central Illinois. Monaco incorporated different activities, gathered student feedback, collected student work, and analyzed her personal journal reflections to draw conclusions on vocabulary usage in the mathematics classroom. Many students are not accustomed to emphasis on vocabulary in the mathematics classroom so student feedback and personal reflection allow for growth to enhance student learning and understanding of mathematical concepts.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2011


  • Education
  • Mathematics

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