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International Journal of STEM Education

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This paper contributes to current discussions about supporting prospective teachers (PSTs) in developing skills of noticing students’ mathematical thinking. We draw attention to PSTs’ initial noticing skills (prior to instruction focused on supporting noticing) as PSTs engage in analyzing written artifacts of student work and video-records. We examined and compared PSTs’ noticing skills as they analyzed how students reason about, generalize, and justify generalizations of figural patterns given student written work and video records. We identified aspects of student thinking about generalizations and justifications, which PSTs addressed and interpreted. We also examined how PSTs respond to students as they analyze student thinking given written artifacts of student work or video-records of small group discussions, and we identified the foci of PSTs’ responding practice.


Our data revealed that PSTs’ initial noticing skills of student generalizations and justifications differed while accounting for ways in which student thinking was externalized (written work or video-records). PSTs’ attending-and-interpreting and their responding practices were focused on mathematically significant aspects of student thinking to a greater extent in the context of analyzing written artifacts compared to video records. While analyzing students’ written work, PSTs demonstrated greater attention to ways in which students analyzed patterns, students’ generalization strategies, and justifications linked to an understanding of the pattern structure, compared to analyzing student thinking captured via videos.


Our results document that without providing any intentional support for PSTs’ noticing skills, PSTs are more deliberate to focus on mathematically significant aspects of student thinking while analyzing written artifacts of student work compared to video-records. We believe that the analysis of student written work might demand from PSTs to be more analytical. While examining written representations, PSTs have to reconstruct students’ reasoning. Unlike the videos where the students tell or use gestures to express their thinking, written work provides fewer clues about student thinking. Thus, written work demands a deeper level of engagement from PSTs as they strive to understand student reasoning. Our study extends research on PSTs’ noticing skills by documenting differences in PSTs’ noticing in relation to the nature of artifacts of student work that PSTs analyze. Our work also adds to prior research on PSTs’ noticing by characterizing specific aspects of students’ thinking about pattern generalizations and justifications that PSTs address as they analyze student thinking and respond to students.


Published version. International Journal of STEM Education, Vol. 8, Article 7 (February 3, 2021). DOI. This article is © The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Used with permission.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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