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Impacting Instructional Practice Through The Implementation Of An Inquiry Based Elementary Mathematics Program: A Single Site Collective Case Study

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Mathematics in Transition

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.830.1 - 12.830.15



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Paper Authors


Sandra Linder Math Out of the Box

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Sandra Linder is a graduate student at Clemson University working on her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction. Her research focuses on the pedegogical practices of early childhood and elementary educators.

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Donna Gunderson Math Out of the Box/Clemson University

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Donna Gunderson is currently a research associate and curriculum developer at Clemson University for Math Out of the Box, a
standards-based K-5 math curriculum.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Impacting Instructional Practice through the Implementation of an Inquiry-Based Elementary Mathematics Program: A Single Site Collective Case Study abstract:

Traditional K-12 mathematics instruction begins with rules and procedures and progresses to applications of those rules and procedures. Inquiry based instructional practices engage students in the discovery of rules and procedures through mathematical investigations. Most elementary teachers practice traditional mathematics instruction although many might describe themselves as inquiry-based practitioners. This study examines how the implementation of an inquiry-based mathematics curriculum impacts the instructional practices of K-5 educators in a Title I school district. The purpose of this paper is to describe the changes in practice that occurred throughout the implementation process and to outline several strategies that aided teachers while making the transition from traditional to inquiry-based practitioners.


According to the Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST) report, “Twenty-five percent of our scientist and engineers will reach retirement age by 2010” (p. 1)1. The prevailing concern that American students are not as prepared to meet the challenge of scientific innovation when compared to students in other nations has prompted a response from the federal government. An abundance of federal funding has been allocated towards preparing our students, teachers, and future professionals in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)2. Much of the research associated with this funding has focused on K-12 education and more specifically with increasing student achievement in STEM areas beginning in Kindergarten. This growing concern to increase student achievement has resulted in a push for practitioners to utilize what has been termed, inquiry instruction, in the classroom.

The term inquiry has been used in numerous journal articles, textbooks, pre-service education courses, and professional development workshops. The National Research Council identified the use of inquiry as an integral part of increasing student achievement when creating the National Science Education Standards. “Inquiry is essential to learning. When engaging in inquiry, students describe objects and events, ask questions, construct explanations, test those explanations against current scientific knowledge, and communicate their ideas to others” (p.2)3. Inquiry has commonly been defined as based on the theory of constructivism where students develop knowledge through experiences or learn by doing4,5 6, 7. The purpose of this paper is to examine what traditional and inquiry practice look like in a classroom setting in which an inquiry-based mathematics curriculum is first being introduced. The intention here is not to prove that one approach is better than the other in terms of student achievement or motivation, it is to examine changes in instruction when teachers implement an inquiry-based program.

To examine what traditional and inquiry practice look like in a classroom, it is necessary to first define these terms. As stated previously, inquiry is most commonly associated with the theory of constructivism. Teaching through inquiry has its roots in education as early as the beginning of the nineteenth century with John Dewey and his laboratory school8. Theorists like

Linder, S., & Gunderson, D. (2007, June), Impacting Instructional Practice Through The Implementation Of An Inquiry Based Elementary Mathematics Program: A Single Site Collective Case Study Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1782

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