An Analysis of the Mathematics Vocabulary Knowledge of Third- and Fifth-Grade Students: Connections to General Vocabulary and Mathematics Computation


To read mathematics textbooks, answer questions on mathematics assessments, and understand educator and student communication, students must develop an understanding of the academic language of mathematics. A primary aspect of academic language is vocabulary. This study focused on the mathematics-vocabulary performance of students in third and fifth grades. The authors designed and implemented a measure of key mathematics vocabulary in the late-elementary grades and compared performance on this measure to scores from general vocabulary and mathematics computation measures. Student performance at both grades was variable, with a 62-point range at third grade and a 95-point range at fifth grade. General vocabulary and mathematics computation were significant predictors of mathematics vocabulary, but the influence of these predictors differed by mathematics-vocabulary performance levels.


Powell, S. R., Driver, M. K., Roberts, G., & Fall, A.-M. (2017). An analysis of the mathematics vocabulary knowledge of third- and fifth-grade students: Connections to general vocabulary and mathematics computation. Learning and Individual Differences, 57, 22–32. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2017.05.011