Purdue University Graduate School
2021.8.3 Preservice teachers' enactment of mathematical probes through speech and gestures_Revised_Lizhen Chen_Submission.pdf (1.74 MB)

Preservice Teachers' Enactment of Mathematical Probes Through Speech and Gestures

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posted on 2021-08-03, 19:27 authored by Lizhen ChenLizhen Chen

It is widely accepted that students’ thinking drives teachers’ teaching. There are many ways to probe students’ thinking with speech or with gestures; however, the literature remains relatively distinct, not focused on both. Prior studies focus on probing students’ thinking with speech (talk moves). Although Alibali and colleagues (e.g., Alibali et al., 2013; Nathan et al., 2017) did research about gestures and speech in general teaching practices, few studies narrow in on how gestures work together with speech in the teachers’ enactment of probing practices. Investigating how gestures aid speech in expression of thinking is important. Further, the literature on probing assumes that what researchers consider probing is what teachers consider probing. Thus, we have seen many researchers who use a researcher’s view to define and categorize teachers’ ways of probing. The information about teachers’ stated probes is missing. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to detail how preservice teachers (PSTs) probe students’ mathematical explanations with speech and gestures and inquire into the differences between PST-identified probes and researcher-identified probes. Sources of data included videos of the preservice teachers’ teaching, their identification of probes in stimulated recall interviews, and researchers’ (two researchers) identification of probes. Results showed that, from the researchers’ perspectives, PSTs harnessed various gestures to probe students’ thinking, for example, embedding additional mathematical information (e.g., a different strategy or model) in their gestures, not in their speech partially. Also, the PSTs used more multimodal links in their probes than what the current literature reported about in-service teachers, partially because the PSTs frequently used probing gestures in every interaction with students. The PSTs’ dominating identification of their probing speech highly aligned with the researchers’ identification of probes, despite the PSTs’ missing a majority of their gestures as probes. An influential factor that affected the PSTs’ identification of their probes was the quality and quantity of students’ input. The research findings provide further implications about how teacher educators teach probing practices in preservice teacher education and how future research approaches PSTs’ gesture use in teaching practices.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Curriculum and Instruction

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Laura Bofferding

Additional Committee Member 2

Signe E. Kastberg

Additional Committee Member 3

Siddika Selcen Guzey

Additional Committee Member 4

Samuel Otten