Doyle (1988)

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Work in Mathematics Classes: The Context of Students' Thinking During Instruction


The research program described in this article has focused on the work students do in classrooms and how that work influences students' thinking about content. The research is based on the premise that the tasks teachers assign determines how students come to understand a curriculum domain. Tasks serve, in other words, as a context for students' thinking during and after instruction. The first section of this article contains an overview of the task model that guided research. The second section provides a summary of findings concerning the properties of students' work in classrooms, with special attention to work in mathematics classes. I conclude with a brief discussion of implications of this research for understanding classroom processes and their effects.

Outline of Headings

  • The Study of Academic Work
    • Academic Tasks
    • Cognitive Level of Academic Tasks
  • Forms of Academic Work in Classrooms
    • Familiar Versus Novel Work
    • Work Flow in Classrooms
    • Work Production
    • Credit Economy in Classes
  • The Impact of Classroom Tasks
    • Meaning and Understanding in Classroom Work
    • The "Suitability" of Classroom Tasks


Doyle, W. (1988). Work in mathematics classes: The context of students' thinking during instruction. Educational Psychologist, 23(2), 167–180. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep2302_6
author = {Doyle, Walter},
doi = {10.1207/s15326985ep2302\_6},
journal = {Educational Psychologist},
number = {2},
pages = {167--180},
title = {{Work in mathematics classes: The context of students' thinking during instruction}},
url = {\_6},
volume = {23},
year = {1988}