A Community of Mathematical Inquiry in a High School Setting

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Mathematical Sciences

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Gideon Weinstein

Committee Member

Tamara Lucus

Committee Member

Ann Sharp


This qualitative study describes how a high school mathematics teacher planned and taught Algebra 2 for a semester as a community of inquiry. The teacher assigned questions and activities in whole-class and small group settings for students to create their own meaning of mathematics through inquiry. As students articulated their findings to the community, they corrected their thinking or defended their assertions. The goal of this dialogue was for the community to reach consensus. When students proposed conjectures that encompassed their mathematical thinking, they created mathematics more like mathematicians. Data show that all of the community of inquiry characteristics (dialogue, cooperative problem solving, self-correction, risk taking, acknowledging alternate approaches to problem solving, inquiry relating to the procedures of inquiry, and creating their own meaning) identified for the study were at least partially met. Furthermore, excerpts illustrate that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics objectives (build on prior knowledge; justify claims - provide conjectures; employ a problem-solving approach; seek, formulate, and critique explanations; and clear, coherent communication) identified for the study were met. In fact, the adoption of the NCTM objectives aided the teacher in establishing the community of inquiry. This dissertation presents to high school mathematics teachers a case that community of inquiry is a viable pedagogical strategy. Recommendations of this study include: Teachers should establish maxims. Teachers should use questions and activities to establish a community of maxims. Teachers should use questions and activities to establish a community of inquiry. Teachers should reduce their authority by encouraging students to reach consensus when their solutions differ. Curriculum revision should be undertaken with a view to how students apply the meaning that they have created to aid further inquiry. Teachers should judge the progress of a community of inquiry by using a wide variety of assessments. This study raised a number of questions for further research: 1) Do high school mathematics communities meet other NCTM objectives? 2) What happens if teachers use a community of inquiry approach with different types of students and different content areas? 3) Would whole-class dialogue develop in a high school community of inquiry with more time, and what strategies would stimulate whole-class dialogue?


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