This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Elementary Teacher Beliefs of Mathematics Discourse During Whole Class Discussions




Walls, Jana

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


The art of teaching and learning mathematics is rooted in the discourse that takes place between the teacher and students and among students. This discourse creates understanding, recognition of confusion, and corrections that lead to forward progress in learning. However, the type of discourse that occurs in mathematics today differs greatly from classroom to classroom. While some teachers facilitate student led discourse, others rely on the traditional instructional strategy of lecturing. The purpose of this study was to explore the level of elementary mathematics teacher beliefs about dialogic discourse and teachers’ beliefs about the role of mathematical discourse during whole-class discussions. The impact of years of teaching experience, level of degree, teaching status, and grade of instruction on the participants’ level of elementary mathematics teacher beliefs about dialogic discourse were investigated. Previous literature was explored to understand the history of mathematics discourse, the development of today’s definition of this term, and the importance of comprehending teacher beliefs. Teachers’ beliefs about dialogic discourse were measured using the Beliefs in Mathematics Discourse (BMD) Survey for the 88 participants (M = 2.54, SD = 0.53), and a semi-structured follow-up interview was conducted with four participants. Years of teaching experience was statistically significant when a simple regression model was used to examine its’ relationship to teachers’ beliefs about mathematics discourse (F = 5.365, p = .02). There was a significant difference in BMD survey scores among teachers who had earned different degrees (F4,82 = 3.415, p = .012) and the groups with a different teaching status (F2,82 = 5.746, p = .005). Those with a master’s degree scored significantly higher than those with a high school/associate degree (p = .006), and in-service teachers scored significantly higher than pre-service teachers (p = .004). During the interviews, two predominant themes emerged including the role of the teacher and the role of the student during these interactions. Secondary themes emerged within these ideas including teacher questioning, teaching planning, time, student questioning, student engagement, emotions, formative assessments, and inclusivity. This research study is significant because the participants were able to use their voice to express their opinions and contribute to the research on mathematics discourse. The results confirm that the range of teacher beliefs about mathematics discourse fall along a continuum. The results demonstrate a need for more training on mathematics discourse, especially among pre-service and novice teachers. Future research is needed to explore the impact of professional development and teacher training on teacher beliefs on mathematics discourse to determine the most effective instructional methods.