Investigating changes in high-stakes mathematics examinations: a discursive approach

Candia Morgan, Anna Sfard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


ABSTRACT: This article focuses on the theoretical-methodological question of how to identify reform-induced changes in school mathematics. The issue arose in our project The Evolution of the Discourse of School Mathematics (EDSM), in which we studied transformations in high-stakes examinations taken by students in England at the end of compulsory schooling. We have adopted a conceptualisation that draws on social semiotics and on a communicational approach, according to which school mathematics can be thought of as a discourse. Methods of comparing examinations of different years developed on the basis of this definition enable identification of subtle disparities that are nevertheless significant enough to make an important difference in students’ vision of mathematics, in their performance and, eventually, in their ability to cope with problems that can benefit from the use of mathematics. In this article, we present these methods and argue that they have wider application for comparative studies of school mathematics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-119
Number of pages28
JournalResearch in Mathematics Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Discourse
  • discourse analysis
  • examinations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigating changes in high-stakes mathematics examinations: a discursive approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this