Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Kent Seidel, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Lew Romagnano

Third Advisor

George Straface

Fourth Advisor

Sylvia Hall


Case study, Culturally responsive, Mathematics, Middle School, Reasoning, Sense-making


This dissertation is a case study of culturally responsive teaching in middle school mathematics. The study contributes to the emerging definition of learning experiences in mathematics that support all middle school students through the use of culturally responsive teaching strategies. These experiences are organized to actualize the balance between accommodating the individual student’s culture, needs and interests and supporting the attainment of appropriate mathematics learning goals.

The research site was chosen because of its diverse and changing student demographics, and because of the achievement and growth rates of these students. Data collected from classroom observations of three middle school mathematics teachers at this site; observations of school activities; interviews with these teachers and their school leaders; a student focus group with representative students from the three teacher’s classrooms; and, a review of school and classroom artifacts contributed to the findings for this study. All data were collected during the period of December 2008 through March 2009.

Results of this study give evidence of the significance of a strong school culture that supports the development of understandings in mathematics for each learner. These three teachers provided learners with regular and comprehensive opportunities to learn by organizing strong learning communities in their classrooms; by encouraging students to help each other; by adjusting their instruction based on students’ needs; and, by establishing and acting on challenging learning goals for all students. Additionally, the teachers gave students regular opportunities to make sense of the mathematics they were studying and to share leadership and decision-making within the strong learning community that they established and maintained with each section of students that they taught.

Leaders and others may believe that the components of culturally responsive teaching do not apply in a mathematics classroom. Thus, the findings from this study further educators’ reflection about these ideas. The results of culturally responsive teaching include not only deeper learning of content, but also, an opportunity for students’ to learn to value their own and each other’s differing perspectives that supports the development of stronger democratic citizenship.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Rosanne Fulton


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

150 p.


Educational administration, Mathematics education