Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

James Carroll

LC Subjects

Education, Elementary; Mathematics--Study and teaching; School children


Mathematic reasoning of elementary aged students in the United States is low compared to other like nations. For students living in poverty the disparity is even greater. Previous research has linked mathematical discourse with the improvement of mathematic conceptual understanding and reasoning. This research, which employed a qualitative case study methodology, examined six elementary classrooms, to investigate the complex nature of including mathematical discourse in instruction. The purpose of examining mathematical discourse in elementary classrooms was to provide contextual insight into teacher beliefs about mathematical discourse, how instruction was prepared and facilitated by the teacher, and how students responded through participation. Interview, observation, and artifact data were gathered, and cross analyzed. First, this study suggested that a combination of post-graduate coursework, adopted curriculum, and district professional development supported participating teachers to develop the content and pedagogical knowledge needed to include mathematical discourse in their instruction. Secondly, this study indicated that a teacher’s personal experience with mathematic learning influenced his or her beliefs and impacted his or her instructional practices. Finally, a discrepancy in the cognitive level of discussions between high and low poverty 4th and 6th grade classrooms was noted, but no difference in participation was noted in 2nd grade classrooms. This study supports current research by cross analyzing six in-depth case studies and providing insights into commonalities and differences in teacher beliefs, instructional preparation and facilitation, as well as, student participation.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.