Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Pier Junor Clarke

Second Advisor

Dr. Caroline Sullivan

Third Advisor

Dr. Christine Thomas


Working in isolation is an obstacle when teachers are trying to improve and foster student achievement, yet teachers traditionally teach students in isolation from their faculty and colleagues. The pressure of preparing students for high stakes testing and mandated accountability measures can lead to a negative impact on classroom quality. These pressures were the impetus for a team of coordinate algebra teachers to work together as they explored the needs and expectations of their students. This study sought to explore how teachers can use a non-mandated intentional space for collaboration to work together towards the goal of supporting students’ needs. In this space, the researcher-participant recognized that the team’s work was aligned to the tenets of a community of practice, and they were supporting each other while engaging in purposeful collaboration. The following question, “how has mathematics teachers’ voluntary participation in a community of practice in a secondary school shaped their instructional experiences”, guided the research study. To explore this question, a narrative inquiry, grounded in a social constructivist theoretical perspective, was conducted.

Narrative inquiry was used to examine how mathematics teachers’ participation in a community of practice in an urban secondary school shaped their instructional experiences. Their narratives, along with supporting documents, were collected and provided insight into their experience about the research question. Systematic manual coding, through qualitative data analysis software, were used to analyze the data. This software, NVIVO, was used to organize data after themes emerge, allowing for the construction of meaning and contextualized knowledge regarding the community. The resulting data analysis was used to create a narrative account of the participants’ experience in a voluntarily organized CoP centered on teaching coordinate algebra.

While these narratives may not represent all collaborative settings, the findings highlight the community of practice as a support system, a means for teacher retention, its ability to facilitate professional development, and to improve student achievement.


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