NOMAD 21(2), 2016

Skapad: 2016-06-09. Ändrad: 2016-06-09  

NOMAD 21(2), 2016

Linguistic features and their function in different mathematical content areas in TIMSS 2011

Ida Bergvall, Jenny Wiksten Folkeryd and Caroline Liberg


This study investigates how written language is used as a resource to express meaning in different mathematical content areas; algebra, geometry, statistics and arithmetic, in the Swedish version of TIMSS 2011. Based on previous research we identify linguistic features that fulfill the function of expressing four central meaning dimensions of written academic language in general and in language used in school mathematics in particular; Packing, Precision, Personification and Presentation of information. These four meaning dimensions constitute the foundation for the analysis. The results show differences in how the language is used within the different mathematical content areas in TIMSS 2011. These differences consist primarily of to what extent the language is subject specific and used to express the specific mathematics in each of the four content areas. In this way the notion of a single mathematical language is also challenged.

Ida Bergvall

Ida Bergvall has a PhD from the Department of Education, Uppsala University, Sweden. Ida has a background as mathematics, science and special education teacher. Her research and thesis, Bokstavligt, bildligt och symboliskt i skolans matematik – en studie om ämnesspråk i TIMSS, focus on language in school mathematics.

Jenny Wiksten Folkeryd

Jenny Wiksten Folkeryd is assistant professor at the Department of Education, Uppsala University, Sweden. Her research focuses educational linguistics including reading and writing development, language across the curriculum, text analysis and literacy assessment. She participates in the construction of national tests in Swedish and is a member of the Reading Development Group of PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study).

Caroline Liberg

Caroline Liberg is a Professor of educational sciences focusing on reading and learning processes at the Department of Education, Uppsala University. Her research has focused on literacy practices in early childhood and in different subject areas in school. Together with her doctoral students and colleagues, Caroline Liberg is currently investigating linguistic and content dimensions of test items in international studies of students’ competences in math and science and furthermore the function, content and form of students’ text-making in different subject areas in early school years.