Public defence in mathematics education: Helena Roos

Title: The meaning(s) of inclusion in mathematics in student talk: Inclusion as a topic when students talk about learning and teaching in mathematics
Subject: Mathematics education
Faculty: Faculty of technology
Date: Friday 31 May 2019 at 10.00 am
Place: Room Vicksell, building K, Växjö
External reviewer: Professor Núria Planas, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
Examining committee: Professor Julie Allan, University of Birmingham, England; associate professor Eva Norén, Stockholm University; associate professor Lisa Björklund Boistrup, Malmö University
Chairperson: Associate professor Karl-Olof Lindahl, department of mathematics, Linnaeus University
Main supervisor: Professor Despina Potari, department of mathematics, Linnaeus University
Assistant supervisor: Associate professor Hanna Palmér, department of mathematics, Linnaeus University
Examiner: Professor Jeppe Skott, department of mathematics, Linnaeus University
Spikning: Tuesday 30 April 2019 at 10.00 am at the University library in Växjö


This thesis contributes to the field of special education in mathematics with knowledge about, and an understanding of, students’ meaning(s) of inclusion in mathematics. Three research questions guide the study: What meaning(s) is ascribed, and how is inclusion used in mathematics education research? What meaning(s) do the students attribute to inclusion in mathematics learning and teaching? And what frames students´ meaning(s) of inclusion in mathematics learning and teaching?

In this study, discourse analysis (DA) as described by Gee (2014a, 2014b) is used as both a theoretical frame and as an analytical tool. The first part of this study consists of a systematic literature review on the notion of inclusion in mathematics education research. The second part highlights a case study of students and their meaning(s) of inclusion in mathematics.

A conceptual contribution of this study is the interpretation of the notion of SEM, which has been expanded to include both students who struggle to gain access to mathematics education and thus have difficulties and those who have access to mathematics and master it with ease. A theoretical and methodological contribution is how DA as described by Gee can be used on both on research texts and on interviews and observations in the same way. A contribution for practice and research on inclusion is that inclusion does not always include every student in the classroom. Thus, we need to move on from an almost monolithic view on inclusive classrooms as a physical room where every student is always present physically to a more dynamic view on inclusion – one that is more situated and related to the students’ prerequisites and needs.

This study shows the complexities and challenges of teaching mathematics, all while simultaneously handling students’ diversity and promoting the mathematical development of each student. The study also shows how complex and challenging it is to be a mathematics student. To relate to, understand, and participate in many Discourses existing at the same time in a single mathematics classroom demands that the students be alert and are able to use various symbols and objects as well as recognize patterns, and then act accordingly.

The thesis can be downloaded from

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