, Volume 48, Issue 1–2, pp 199–212 | Cite as

Instructional decision making and agency of community college mathematics faculty

  • Elaine Lande
  • Vilma Mesa
Original Article


We investigate the rationale for instructional decisions proposed by two groups of community college mathematics faculty (full-time and part-time), as they discussed animations of trigonometry classes that breached several classroom norms. Although both groups of faculty justify their decisions in similar ways, the way in which they talk differs. We used systemic functional linguistics to describe the differences we observed: part-time faculty’s language is more tentative, which hints at their tenuous status in their institutions. These findings may explain the negative perception in scholarship towards part-time faculty but such perception might not be justified in the classroom. The findings of this study suggest that further research is needed that attends to both the social context and teachers as individuals to better understand teacher decision-making.


Systemic Functional Linguistics Agency Professional obligations Trigonometry Community colleges 



The research reported in this article is based on dissertation work by the first author under the direction of the second author. It has been supported in part by the King- Chavez-Parks Initiative, the Rackham Graduate School, the School of Education at the University of Michigan, and by the National Science Foundation grant DRL-0745474 to the second author. Opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not reflect the views of the Foundation.


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Copyright information

© FIZ Karlsruhe 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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