Partitioning: A grounded theory investigation of instructor mathematics philosophy shaping community college mathematics courses

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rose, Amy D.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Mathematics--Study and teaching (Higher); Universities and colleges--Curricula; Education; Higher--Curricula


The purpose of this study was to explore the ways instructors’ subject matter beliefs shape their educational practice in a community college environment. Adults are enrolling in community college mathematics courses in response to the changing demands of the workplace and to concerns coming with the emerging knowledge economy. Community colleges are charged with creating the access and success to these academic pathways needed by adults. The multiple missions assigned to the community college system create a complex teaching environment for its faculty. Instructors are expected to shape courses to service educational programs with different and often conflicting components including preparation for college-level work, acquiring the necessary skills for a career, and preparation for changing lifelong learning mathematics needs. To understand this process, data was collected and analyzed from instructors’ philosophical definitions of mathematics and observations of teaching episodes using a constructivist grounded theory research design. Findings show instructor beliefs separate mathematics discourses into subcultures of workplace, applied and academic mathematics communities with a perceived need for future mathematics assigned to each partition. Teaching partitioned mathematics subcultures does not capture the complexity of mathematics for all learners. When the mathematics knowledge between these subcultures is disjoint, the knowledge incommensurability can become a barrier for workers’ future mathematical learning when the needs of a knowledge-based society change.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 216-236)


vii, 270 pages




Northern Illinois University

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