In recent years, attention to equity and inclusion has rightfully become an essential focus in mathematics education. Given the social nature of mathematics, collaborative learning is one of the instructional strategies with the greatest potential for developing conceptual learning and creative problem-solving, and when facilitated well, has the potential to minimize racial and social biases. However, although the expected outcome of student collaboration is a collective mathematical agency, studies show that for this to happen, it is first necessary to develop among students Collective Mathematics Identity, which are beliefs and dispositions developed by a group of students about their collective ability to participate and operate successfully in a mathematical community through mutual interdependence. Therefore, this study explored how the Complex Instruction components of social norms and small group strategies contributed to developing a community of learners that fosters a Collective Mathematics Identity that supported preservice teachers' collective learning of mathematics. This study employed designed-based research with an ethnographic approach for examining the development of a community of learners. Data collection took place during the course of fourteen weeks in an undergraduate secondary mathematics education content course intended for preservice teachers. The participants were four preservice teachers who sat together during the semester. Data were gathered using video and audio recordings, field notes, and ethnographic interviews. The data gathered were then analyzed using qualitative methods, primarily ethnographic analysis. During this study, participants engaged in mathematical content in connected ways, as well as in team/skill-building activities designed to support social norms for effective communication and collaboration. Through engaging in this study, participants changed their behaviors and dispositions toward small collaborative groups and developed both, a supportive community and a collective mathematics identity among participants. All of the above resulted in deeper and more meaningful learning of mathematics.


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Graduation Date





Bush, Sarah


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Teacher Education

Degree Program

Education; Math Education




CFE0009405; DP0027128





Release Date

December 2023

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)