Title: Students’ Opportunity to Struggle in Middle Grades Mathematics Classrooms
Program: Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction
Advisor: Dr. Michele Carney, Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies
Committee Members: Dr. Angela Crawford (Co-Chair), Mathematics; Dr. Joe Champion, Mathematics; Dr. Michael Jarry-Shore, Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies; and Dr. Sara Hagenah, Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies
Mathematics researchers suggest that providing students the opportunity to struggle with important mathematics is a necessary component of a classroom experience in order for students to conceptually understand mathematics. This study illuminates lessons that demonstrate high levels of providing students with the opportunity to struggle (SOS) with important mathematics in middle grades classrooms. There are many strategies to promote and support SOS in mathematics classrooms. This study seeks to answer the questions: What lesson structures are implemented in middle grades mathematics classrooms with high levels of SOS? and What instructional practices are implemented in middle grades mathematics classrooms with high levels of SOS?. I use a collective instrumental case study approach to investigate and describe similarities and differences in the structures and practices demonstrated in four middle grades classrooms exhibiting high levels of SOS within a larger study in Southwest Idaho. Classroom videos of selected lessons provided the primary source of data for this study. Deductive coding followed by thematic analysis uncovered structures and practices within the lessons compared and described in this study. Additionally, vignettes describe rich and unique instances of SOS found within the study’s sample classrooms.