Striving toward equity : a story of positioning and status : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Education at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This study explores how teachers construct equitable learning environments in primary school mathematics classrooms as a means of striving toward equity. The deep complexity of classrooms and numerous connected elements that influence students’ access and opportunities for learning mathematics are highlighted. Under consideration are the different pathways teachers take as they develop and maintain responsive and adaptive approaches to position all students to learn mathematics in ways that meet the aims of equity in mathematics education. A qualitative design research methodology was employed to explore the complexities and challenges of teacher learning and change within primary school classroom settings. The design approach supported the development of a model of professional learning and frameworks of teacher instructional actions to establish and maintain mathematics classrooms focused on equity. Data collection over the school year included study group meetings, participant observations, video-recorded observations, documents, and teacher and student recorded reflections and interviews. Retrospective data analyses drew the results together to be presented as cases of two teachers, their classrooms, and students. The findings show that constructing equitable mathematics learning environments is a gradual and complex process. It involves teachers reconstructing their beliefs and enacting specific instructional actions to position all students to learn mathematics. Reconceptualising mathematics teaching and learning requires transforming the social and organisational structures within classrooms and disrupting assumptions of uniformity across all students from a strength-based approach. Of importance is how the findings highlight possible ways of meeting the needs of diverse, and often marginalised groups of students in New Zealand schools. Significant implications based on these findings include how the aims of equity in mathematics education can extend beyond policy and into practice within primary school mathematics classrooms in the New Zealand context.
Mathematics, Study and teaching (Elementary), New Zealand, Mathematics teachers, Educational equalization