Mathematical Communication is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics, whether for the purpose of learning mathematics or of learning to communicate as mathematicians.

Research/Scholarship on communication & its pedagogy

Research on communication of mathematics

  • Bahls, Patrick, Mecklenburg-Faenger, Amy, Scott-Copses, Meg, & Warnick, Chris. (2011, June 27). Proofs and persuasion: A cross-disciplinary analysis of math students’ writing. Across the Disciplines, 8(1).
    Abstract: “This article offers an initial analysis of the rhetorical devices used by mathematics undergraduates as they begin to write research articles in their discipline. The authors (a mathematician and three experts in composition and rhetoric) identify several such devices, including transitions and metacommentary, style and tone, use of sources, and visual rhetoric. Further, the authors use these markers, along with their unique disciplinary experiences, to identify convergences and divergences between writing in the disciplines of mathematics and composition and rhetoric.”
  • Kline, S., and D. Ishii, “Procedural Explanations in Mathematics Writing: A Framework for Understanding College Students’ Effective Communication Practices,” Written Communication, 2008, Vol. 25 No.4  pp. 441-461.
    An analysis of procedural explanations written by remedial college mathematics students, focused on the following research questions: What procedural explanation practices appear? Which of these practices are significantly related to experts’ appraisals of the explanations? How do the practices combine to predict these appraisals?
  • Burton, Leone, & Morgan, Candia. (2000). Mathematicians writing. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 31(4), 429-453.
    An analysis of 53 published math research papers, as well as interviews.
  • Bagchi, Atish, & Wells, Charles. (1998). Varieties of Mathematical Prose. PRIMUS vol. 8, pages 116-136.
    Abstract: “This article begins the development of a taxonomy of mathematical prose, describing the precise function and meaning of speci c types of mathematical exposition. It further discusses the merits and demerits of a style of mathematical writing that labels each passage according to its function as described in the taxonomy.”
  • Philosophy of mathematics also addresses mathematical communication. See for example, various articles in Mathematics, Education, and Philosophy: An International Perspective, Edited by Paul Ernest, The Falmer Press, 1994.
  • Wynn, James, and G. Mitchell Reyes, eds. Arguing with numbers: the intersections of rhetoric and mathematics. Vol. 16. Penn State Press, 2021.

General resources (not specific to mathematics)

  • Russell, D., “Contradictions regarding teaching and writing (or writing to learn) in the disciplines: What we have learned in the USA,” Revista de Docencia Universitaria Vol.11 (1)  Enero-Abril 2013, pp. 161-181.
    “This article describes a tradition of Anglophone North American higher education (HE) research concerning the role of writing in learning and development. It is not a formal literature review but rather an introduction to this 30 year-old tradition (for reviews see Russell 1997; Russell 2002; Russell 2009). Several research studies are briefly summarized to illustrate the theory, the methods, selected results, and interventions developed for and resulting from the research.”
  • Russell, D., “Where do the Naturalistic Studies of WAC/WID Point? A Research Review” WAC for the New Millennium: Strategies for Continuing Writing-Across-the-Curriculum Programs, Ed. S McLeod et al., Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2001, pp. 259-298.
    This review begins by briefly summarizing quantitative research on the effects of writing on learning or thinking and uses these confusing results to explain the more recent emphasis on qualitative research.  The article then reviews qualitative research to address how writing is practiced and learned in professional workplaces, graduate and internship education, courses for majors, and general or liberal education courses.

The following databases contain research related to communication and communication pedagogy.


Research into more specific areas of communication pedagogy appear on the relevant pages of this site.

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