Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation is a qualitative study utilizing action research methods to develop a case study on the experience of urban public elementary school Native American students in collaborative mathematics activities. Data was collected with observations, mathematics assessments, and interviews to study how public school Native first graders experience collaborative mathematics activities when culturally modified with Indigenous ways of knowing and being? A major challenge in analyzing this work was finding a theoretical framework that could explain the experience of Native students in a multicultural public school. Sociocultural theory was selected because it operationalizes the key features of the study: Indigenous ways of knowing and being and the joint activity of learning mathematics in a public school classroom. The study suggests that Native students were heterogeneous learners and responded to cognitive pluralism, a variety of instruction, student practice options and assessments, in differentiated ways. Furthermore, the collaborative activity of learning mathematics was influenced by the affective factors developed in classroom culture. The teacher designed the classroom as a caring community that acknowledged students cultures with an appreciation and respect for the reality of student lives. The findings from this study suggest that collaborative mathematics activities can promote Native students' learning when teacher and student participation is varied in style and function, and when this joint activity is nested within a larger context of a supportive community classroom. Key to this premise is the concept of nested joint activities; where the synergy of learning operates within and between joint activities.'


action research, case study, sociocultural theory, Native American

Document Type




Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Level of Degree


Department Name

Teacher Education, Educational Leadership & Policy

First Advisor

Chávez, Alicia F.

First Committee Member (Chair)

Kitchen, Richard

Second Committee Member

Celedón-Pattichis, Sylvia

Third Committee Member

Minthorn, Robin

Fourth Committee Member

Nelson-Barber, Sharon