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Cooperative Group Work in a Fifth Grade Mathematics Classroom: Impacts on Equity through Strategic Engagement Structures

Christine Cathrine Olsen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Teaching and learning mathematics in an elementary classroom is a complex process in negotiating a balance in encouraging participation, responding to students, making connections between interactions, and planning for upcoming interactions. In a search for instructional models and structures that support and encourage student engagement in problem solving and mathematical conversations, this study is a fifth grade teacher’s reflective journey incorporating high demand cognitive tasks. In building on Cochran-Smith & Lytle’s work with an Inquiry as Stance approach to learning about teaching and learning mathematics in an elementary classroom, an autoethnographic study attempts to improve opportunities for access, agency, power, and achievement for all students. It was found that through an iterative planning process through the use of professional noticing and daily reflection, cooperative group work using high cognitively demanding tasks could be supported through constructing competence, addressing status issues, supporting productive struggle, utilizing math/number talks, and preparing and utilizing purposeful questions. Through building structures for student engagement in complex problem solving, teachers enact a teaching and learning practice toward equity-based mathematical learning.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Olsen, Christine Cathrine, "Cooperative Group Work in a Fifth Grade Mathematics Classroom: Impacts on Equity through Strategic Engagement Structures" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28713334.