Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Lynn Hodge

Committee Members

Stergios Botzakis, Joshua Rosenberg, Anne Ho


The purpose of this study was to examine how middle grades students collaborate and communicate in development of mathematical arguments through collective arguments. Using a cognitive situate learning perspective, this study explored how and in what ways middle grade students engaged in collective argumentation to advance their mathematical arguments, to discuss mathematics collaboratively with one another, and to view themselves as doers of mathematics. In particular, the collective small-group arguments, audio recordings of the small-group discussions, and the pre- and post-surveys were examined. The participants in the study included approximate 45 eighth-grade students enrolled in one of four different Pre-Algebra classes taught by the same eighth grade math teacher at the same private school in the Southeast United States during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years. Data was collected via written collective arguments of the small groups, audio recordings of the small group discussions, and surveys before and after the instructional series. As for data analysis, a process of coding the arguments based on a hierarchy of arguments from the well-accepted work of Harel and Sowder (1998) was used for the quantitative analysis, and a coding system heavily based on work from Saldaña (2013) was used for the qualitative analysis. This inductive approach better explains the data from the participants themselves as they grew in mathematical argumentation and mathematical identity. Students advanced in their knowledge of and abilities to develop mathematical arguments, recognized the value of specific elements of argumentation according to Toulmin’s model (Brockriede & Ehninger, 1960), and recognized developments in their identities as doers of mathematics. As a result of this study, middle grades students developed in their creations of mathematical arguments when collaborating in small groups, and they grew in different aspects of personal identity as doers of mathematics.

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