First Advisor

Karen Noordhoff

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Mathematics teachers, Problem solving -- Study and teaching (Middle school), Mathematics -- Study and teaching (Middle school)



Physical Description

1 online resource (334 p.)


Implementation of Oregon’s Educational Reform Act (HB 3565 and HB 2991) provides the context for this inquiry as its emphasis on problem solving has impacted mathematics teaching and learning throughout the state. Even though all Oregon teachers are responding to the same policy, their goals in teaching problem solving vary. These goals and these practices are influenced by the way teachers view the role of problem solving in the curriculum. Further, their practice is influenced by their knowledge and beliefs about mathematics content, teaching, learning, and the reform policy. The questions addressed in this study are: (1) What do exemplary middle school math teachers do to engage students in mathematical problem solving? and (2) On what bases do these teachers make decisions about what to emphasize when teaching problem solving? how to teach problem solving?, and when to teach problem solving?

This qualitative study provides a fuller description of Standards-based classroom practice than presently represented in the literature by offering both examples of problem solving practice and the related influences on that practice. It considers the influences of policy, curriculum, professional development, administrators, and colleagues on teachers’ developing practice. The study also grounds the implementation of the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2000) in the work of practicing middle school teachers. Finally, the study shows how, for these teachers, their curriculum has played a significant role in developing their perspectives on learning, teaching, and the nature of math, which has in turn, influenced their knowledge, beliefs, and instructional practice.

This study demonstrates that teachers are able to teach in ways consistent with the NCTM Standards when their knowledge and beliefs about practice align with the recommendations. Further, they teach in this manner when professional development experiences are geared toward understanding and developing Standards-based instructional practice, curriculum is consistent with this vision of practice, and administrators and school cultures are supportive of such practice. When these internal and external conditions exist within and for teachers, their students have the opportunity to learn to become “problem solvers,” not just “problem performers.”


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier