Teacher telling in the mathematics classroom: A microlevel study of the dynamics between general and contextualized knowledge


  • Aurelie Chesnais University of Montpellier
  • Julie Horoks Paris-Est Créteil University
  • Aline Robert CY Cergy Paris University
  • Janine Rogalski Paris Cité University


teaching practices, teacher telling, students’ activity, secondary school mathematics, generalization, whole class scaffolding, activity theory, double approach


In this article, we analyze moments of teacher telling (MTT) involving the exposition of new knowledge to students. We first specify the theoretical framework used for our analyses and describe our global methodology, focusing on teacher telling moments as taking part in the students’ mathematics learning. Then, we review the literature on this topic and develop a specific tool, called a “proximity,” to study MMTs in relation to whole-class scaffolding. Finally, we compare two high school teachers’ practices in teaching the same content — variation of functions for 10th grade students — to illustrate this new analytical lens. In the conclusion, we discuss our approach and develop several research perspectives.

Author Biographies

Aurelie Chesnais, University of Montpellier

is a professor at the Faculty of Education at the University of Montpellier attached to the Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory in Didactics, Education and Training (LIRDEF). Her research focuses on mathematics teaching practices, learning inequalities in mathematics, and the professional development of mathematics teachers. aurelie.chesnais@umontpellier.fr

Julie Horoks, Paris-Est Créteil University

is a professor at the Laboratoire de Didactique André Revuz at Paris Est- Créteil University. Her research work focuses on teaching practices in mathematics, and more specifically for the assessment of student learning, and on teachers’ professional development. julie.horoks@u-pec.fr

Aline Robert, CY Cergy Paris University

is a researcher in mathematics didactics associated with the Laboratoire de Didactique André Revuz. Her work is focused on the teaching of mathematics at the university level, on mathematics teachers’ practices, and on the professional training of secondary school mathematics teachers. Her research is based on activity theory, with a marked methodological orientation (analysis of tasks and of their implementation in class) and an attempt to operationalize Vygostki’s ZPD model at several levels. robertaline.robertaline@orange.fr

Janine Rogalski, Paris Cité University

is an honorary CNRS research director associated with the Laboratoire de Didactique André Revuz at Paris Cité University. She has a PhD in the didactics of mathematics and an HDR (habilitation to supervise research) in psychology. Her research work falls within the framework of activity theory (Vygotsky, Leontiev, Leplat) and concerns mathematics / computer science didactics (education) and vocational didactics (professional training) to analyze teachers’ and teacher educators’ activity. She is also involved in a group studying the history of work and students’ and workers’ guidance (GRESHTO, CNAM Paris). rogalski.muret@gmail.com


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How to Cite

Chesnais, A., Horoks, J., Robert, A., & Rogalski, J. (2022). Teacher telling in the mathematics classroom: A microlevel study of the dynamics between general and contextualized knowledge. McGill Journal of Education / Revue Des Sciences De l’éducation De McGill, 57(2). Retrieved from https://mje.mcgill.ca/article/view/9907