A Study of Two Sixth Grade Classrooms in China

This microethnographic study finds that student choral response (CR) is a recurrent and dominant student participation structure in the two six-grade mathematics classrooms in China. By applying a three-level cultural model (teacher’s cultural beliefs in mathematics teaching and learning, mathematics curriculum culture in China, and classroom culture) in analyzing data from interviews with the teachers, this work demonstrates how the various cultural factors work together to make Choral Response a culturally favored classroom discourse pattern.


“[T]he unique contribution of this work is the application of a cultural perspective to the analysis of classroom discourse. Wang brings together his previous personal experience as an elementary student in China and as a mathematics teacher in Shanghai with his training in discourse analysis at Harvard University to offer a fresh and well informed perspective on instruction that illustrates the importance of culture in classroom instruction. This cultural perspective suggests that in order to understand the pedagogical function of classroom discourse patterns, it is more instructive to examine these discourse patterns with an eye toward cultural context rather than merely examine the overt linguistic form or the content that is conveyed.” – Prof. Katherine K. Merseth, Harvard University

“. . . provides insight on a little-studied, but central discourse practice in Chinese classrooms.” – Prof. David Coker, University of Delaware

Table of Contents

Foreword by Katherine K. Merseth
Two Sources of this Research Interest
Research Questions
Overview of this Book
Chapter 1 Theoretical Framework
Pedagogical Functions of Classroom Discourse
Discourse Unit and Features
Culture and Classroom Discourse
Chapter 2 Method
Research Site and Informants
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Validity Issue
Chapter 3 Discourse Features of Choral Response
An Overview of Lesson Structure
CR vs. IR
Four Variations of CR
Chapter Summary
Chapter 4 Pedagogical Functions of Choral Response
Classroom Discourse Event
A Brief Context of the Event
Activity 1: Discussing the Sentence
Activity 2: Using Visual Representation
Chapter Summary
Event Transcripts
Chapter 5 Cultural Justifications of Using
Choral Response
Teachers’ Cultural Beliefs
Curricular Cultural Factors
Classroom Culture Factors
Chapter Summary
Chapter 6 Conclusions and Implications
Main Findings
Advantages and Disadvantages of CR
Theoretical Implications
Overall Summary