Date of Award:


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Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Beth MacDonald


This exploratory study investigated the influence of High Performance Team (HPT) training on sociomathematical norms and differing levels of the Math-Talk Learning Community framework (Math-Talk) when sixth-grade student teams solved challenging mathematics problems while working in teams. HPT training involved (1) training students on distinct roles in the team problem-solving process, (2) challenging students with complicated mathematical problems, and (3) holding students accountable for contributions to the team. This research project explored the initial stages of the relationship between HPT and student-to-student mathematics conversations though the lens of the Math-Talk Learning Community framework.

The researcher studied four teams (i.e., four cases) with four middle school students in each team/case during a 7-week timeframe. The research study had three phases. The first phase involved gathering baseline data regarding the students’ sociomathematical norms. During the second phase, the students were trained to work in HPT and then solved challenging mathematics problems in teams. During the last phase, the researcher collected data to explore shifts in sociomathematical norms and student autonomy after the students had the opportunity to be trained and work in HPT. The researcher used descriptive statistics to analyze the quantitative data and open and axial coding to analyze the qualitative data.

The analysis included both within- and cross-case analysis. The descriptive statistics used to analyze the changes in sociomathematical norms and Math-Talk levels indicated that the levels of sociomathematical norms increased when teachers gave students opportunities to participate in mathematics discussion. Specifically, students were most adept in the area of explaining and justifying reasoning and least skilled in the area of indicate when solutions are valid.

The role of the teacher was key to maintaining high levels of Math-Talk. The teachers needed to give appropriate support to maintain these levels in three different areas: (1) select problems that were the appropriate level of complexity and provide scaffolding when needed, (2) ensure students understood the context for the mathematics problems, and (3) teach students how to find their own errors or be ready to give feedback regarding whether students’ answers were correct.



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