Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Eileen Murray

Committee Member

Eileen Fernandez

Committee Member

Mika Munakata


The goal of this study was to investigate opportunities for cultivating a community of learning in an elementary school mathematics classroom using four guiding principles for productive disciplinary engagement. A community of learning involves teachers and students participating equally in negotiating, sharing, and producing knowledge as co-learners, coteachers, and co-collaborators in the classroom. Characteristics of a community of learning align with effective teaching and learning practices described by national governing bodies and researchers in the field of mathematics education. The essence of a community of learning is beneficial in an elementary mathematics classroom because it invokes deep learning about disciplinary content. Based on the lack of naturalistic studies related to investigating aspects of a community of learning in elementary school mathematics classrooms, this study was conducted in the natural setting of a first-grade elementary school classroom and employs a qualitative case study design. Opportunities for cultivating a community of learning were investigated in the classroom, with no interventions. Data was collected in the form of observations, interviews, and artifacts. After several rounds of data analysis, the results of this study demonstrated missed opportunities for cultivating a community of learning in this first grade classroom based upon the principles. Data from this study illuminated difficulties for the teacher in enacting a curriculum as intended, eliciting student thinking, and maintaining a high level of cognitive demand in the classroom. Implications from this study include investigating ways to support teachers in enacting a curriculum and facilitating discourse in ways that can build on opportunities to cultivate a community of learning in elementary school mathematics classrooms.

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