Yackel & Cobb (1996)

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Sociomathematical Norms, Argumentation, and Autonomy in Mathematics

The article Sociomathematical Norms, Argumentation, and Autonomy in Mathematics was written by Erna Yackel and Paul Cobb and published in the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education in 1996. The article is available from JSTOR at http://www.jstor.org/stable/749877.


This paper sets forth a way of interpreting mathematics classrooms that aims to account for how students develop mathematical beliefs and values and, consequently, how they become intellectually autonomous in mathematics. To do so, we advance the notion of sociomathematical norms, that is, normative aspects of mathematical discussions that are specific to students' mathematical activity. The explication of sociomathematical norms extends our previous work on general classroom social norms that sustain inquiry-based discussion and argumentation. Episodes from a second-grade classroom where mathematics instruction generally followed an inquiry tradition are used to clarify the processes by which sociomathematical norms are interactively constituted and to illustrate how these norms regulate mathematical argumentation and influence learning opportunities for both the students and the teacher. In doing so, we both clarify how students develop a mathematical disposition and account for students' development of increasing intellectual autonomy in mathematics. In the process, the teacher's role as a representative of the mathematical community is elaborated.

Outline of Headings

  • Theoretical Perspective
  • Social and Sociomathematical Norms
  • The Process of Developing Sociomathematical Norms
  • Influence of Sociomathematical Norms on Mathematical Argumentation and Learning Opportunities
  • The Interactive Constitution of What Counts as an Acceptable Explanation and Justification
    • A Mathematical Basis for Explanations
    • Explanations as Descriptions of Actions on Experientially Real Mathematical Objects
    • Explanations as Objects of Reflection
  • Intellectual Autonomy
  • Significance



Yackel, E., & Cobb, P. (1996). Sociomathematical norms, argumentation, and autonomy in mathematics. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 27(4), 458–477.


author = {Yackel, Erna and Cobb, Paul},
journal = {Journal for Research in Mathematics Education},
number = {4},
pages = {458--477},
title = {{Sociomathematical norms, argumentation, and autonomy in mathematics}},
url = {http://www.jstor.org/stable/749877},
volume = {27},
year = {1996}