Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The main purpose of this study is to investigate how teachers implemented teaching reform in secondary mathematics classrooms in China, and to understand the context of teaching transformation in general. Two groups of mathematics teachers were included in this study. One group was involved in a leadership project led by university-based mathematics teacher educators, and the other was engaged in a school teaching experiment led by teacher educators from local education department. In this study, classrooms are viewed as social systems in which the teacher and students are interrelated through communication networks. This study examines the structures, patterns of social relationships, and socio-autonomy of the communication networks. The social relationships are focused on learning goals, social and socio-mathematical norms, and mutual relationships. Socio-autonomy refers to the abilities of the communication networks to adapt and to evolve. A combination of social network analysis and qualitative research methods is employed to analyze the dynamics of the structures and relationship patterns. In addition, the teachers’ perspectives of mathematics, instruction, and experiences, along with associated teacher communities are all examined to understand their impact on teaching practices. The findings have indicated different types of classroom teaching with different learning goals, social norms, and mutual relationships. Overall, the teaching was centered upon students’ problem solving and presentations of solutions. The communication structures in most classroom teaching, however, are lack of dynamics. Constraints placed on communications controlled by the teacher result in linear patterns of communications and dampened emergent and dynamic communications in classroom teaching. Reform efforts seemed not to fully support the development of mathematical insights and creativity. These issues suggest that classroom teaching reform need to address the power relationships between individuals’ development of understanding and socio-autonomy of the class. This research also indicates that teaching approaches are related to what the teachers learned in the associated teacher learning communities. It suggests teacher education need to help teachers change expectations for learning from efficiency and skills to processes and communication dynamics. By embracing uncertainty and better understanding of individual autonomy and letting go of control, innovative transformation happens in classroom teaching.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Fleener, M. Jayne



Included in

Education Commons