Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities


Padma Krishnan, Deputy Director of Southern Cross Campus Junior School explains that one important outcome of DMIC is that the children now have a lot more power over their own learning. Also, because maths problems are set in contexts that have meaning for the children they understand them better and can discuss them. Maths has become real. The children have accepted greater agency in their own learning.

10 LEARNING FOR LIFE from BES Programme on Vimeo.

Key Content

A number of Southern Cross children explain why they are now so excited about maths.

Evidence in Action

In this video we see that:

  • setting maths in meaningful contexts is a key to engagement, understanding and agency
  • children like to have agency in their own learning
  • working on 'real' problems builds agency.

This reinforces the crucial importance of good problem design and teaching children how to work productively in collaborative, mixed-ability groups.
Speaking of their experience of DMIC maths, the children say:

  • working on problems that are situated in real life is a good way to learn about life
  • it's great to have opportunities to do your own thinking and come up with your own strategies
  • it's great to be challenged
  • sharing thinking gives you opportunities to learn from others
  • mistakes are opportunities for learning.

Effective implementation of DMIC gives students confidence in their ability to do challenging mathematics.

Key Evidence Informing Action - References

Specialist providers, principals and teachers working in New Zealand schools and early childhood services, as well as the New Zealand Ministry of Education and central government education agency staff, can contact the Ministry of Education Library for access to the key evidence. For anyone else requiring this material, you can contact your institution or local public library.

  1. Alton-Lee, A. (2003). Quality teaching for diverse students in schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  2. Alton-Lee, A., Hunter, R., Sinnema, C., & Pulegatoa-Diggins, C. (2012, April). BES Exemplar 1 Ngā Kete Raukura – He Tauira: Developing communities of mathematical inquiry. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
  3. Tam, J. (2014, 23 June). How to learn math: Session 4.1: Teaching for a growth mindset. Retrieved from .
  4. BBC 4. (2015, 20 July). How mistakes make you smarter' Claudia Hammond talks with Professors Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck of Stanford University. Retrieved from
  5. Moll L., Amanti C., Neff D. & González N. (1992). Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms. Theory into Practice. 31:132-41.

Videos (14)

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