Principal Investigator: Jill Hamm
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation


The ‘Principles and Standards for School Mathematics’ include ‘Communication’ among five process standards, specifically “communicat(ing) mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others.” On the list for the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics is “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others” among eight Standards for Mathematical Practice. Many mathematics classrooms are structured to address these goals by arranging students in collaborative groups and whole class discussions, seeking to engage students in peer-to-peer interactions that promote conceptual learning, a sense of belonging to an intellectual community, and recognition of learning resources afforded by peers. Successful grouping practices and learning depend on peer relational processes such as students’ peer norms for effort and achievement, peer support, and teachers’ attunement to classroom social dynamics. The proposed study examines the interplay of teacher-occasioned peer interactions, in collaborative working groups and whole class formats, and naturally occurring social dynamics in middle grades mathematics classrooms. The study will address outcomes in the classroom learning environment, student dispositions toward mathematics learning, and engagement and success with mathematical practices. Data collection will include classroom observation, and surveys and interviews with teachers and students. Mixed-method design and analysis will be used to integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches. Results of the study will inform professional development, teacher support, and tools for lesson planning, formative assessment, and teacher reflection to promote positive peer-to-peer collaborative learning experiences in mathematics classrooms.