The role of communities of practice in supporting first -year teachers' learning to teach mathematics in urban schools

Shea Mosley Culpepper, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation reports on the work of a one-year study of beginning elementary teacher learning, with a particular focus on teaching mathematics in urban schools. As part of the effort to improve mathematics education in elementary schools, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has published standards for mathematics teaching and learning. While teacher preparation programs have adopted these standards to use in preparing math teachers, research indicates that beginning teachers often adopt the existing practices of the school in which they work. This study looked at one possibility for countering that reality. A community of four teachers was formed to continue the learning trajectory begun in their math methods course through continued conversation about issues relating to teaching mathematics using a standards-based pedagogy. Data collection included audiotaped interviews, classroom observations, videotaped meetings, and the teachers' own reflective journals. Data analysis focused on the teachers' ongoing learning, and the extent to which this community, formed outside of the school setting, supported that learning. The findings indicate that learning, defined here as the development of pedagogical voice, is supported by such a deliberately created community of practice. The ways in which this happens, however, are contingent on the influence of the individual teacher's school community, the deliberately formed community of beginning teachers, and the individual teacher's disposition about mathematics teaching and learning.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Elementary education|Mathematics education

Recommended Citation

Culpepper, Shea Mosley, "The role of communities of practice in supporting first -year teachers' learning to teach mathematics in urban schools" (2004). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3152023.