Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Donna Graham, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Jazzar, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Michael Hollis, Ed.D.


Student achievement in mathematics is correlated with factors related to student engagement. Improving engagement has the potential to improve student achievement at the middle school level. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics explicate eight specific Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMPs) that clarify the types of skills and learning dispositions associated with mathematical proficiency. The CCSS further urge teachers to engage students through pedagogical practices that provide opportunities to use the SMPs in increasingly complex ways. This study aims to identify how discourse is used as an instructional strategy to engage middle school mathematics students with the SMPs. Data was collected through a qualitative case study of a middle school mathematics teachers teaching five classes of mathematics to students at three grade levels. Instructional activities should be thoughtfully planned to emphasize independence and perseverance. A delicate balance of independent work and group interactions can support these dual goals. While discourse provides an opportunity to monitor students’ engagement with many of the SMPs, thoughtfully planned activities and questioning routines help to guide the discussions toward the intended learning target.

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