Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Ruthmae Sears , Ph.D.

Committee Member

Zorka Karanxha, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mile Krajcevski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dana Thompson-Dorsey, Ph.D.


Challenges, Lesson plans, Pre-service teachers, Resolutions, Secondary


While much is known about learning to teach for social justice in other content areas, less is known about how mathematics education students learn to teach mathematics for social justice, specifically at the high school level. Hence, this mixed-methods convergent case study addresses this gap in the research literature by examining and describing the experiences of mathematics education students learning to teach mathematics for social justice within the context of a high school mathematics methods course at a large research university in the southeastern United States. The data sources accessed for this study include a survey measuring beliefs about teaching for social justice, conceptions about teaching mathematics for social justice, lesson plans incorporating mathematics and social justice, and reflections about learning and planning to teach mathematics for social justice. These data sources were analyzed using conventional and directive content analysis. Participants in the study included mathematics education undergraduate and graduate students that were either pre-service or in-service teachers (n=14).

Findings of the study revealed that mathematics education students’ beliefs about social justice increased over the course of the semester but that the increase was not statistically significant at 0.05 significance level. Findings also revealed that most participants had a correct understanding of teaching mathematics for social justice by the end of the course. Additionally, there was evidence that participants could appropriately integrate mathematics and culture, and social justice into lesson plans. However, there was also evidence of lesson plans that did not correctly incorporate social justice into the mathematics curriculum. This evidence suggests that more work is needed in developing mathematics education students' understanding of teaching mathematics for social justice in conjunction with incorporating it into the mathematics curriculum. Finally, results revealed that in the process of planning to teach mathematics for social justice, participants faced cognitive, affective, and social challenges, including developing the lesson, lack of knowledge and experience, emotions related to implementing the lesson, and discourse related to student discussions and teacher delivery of the lesson. This finding suggests that more work is needed in supporting mathematics education students to overcome these challenges. Participants also faced cognitive, affective, and social resolutions, including looking to resources, themselves, and others for support. This finding suggests that mathematics education students should be encouraged to look to these areas for support as they learn and plan to teach mathematics for social justice.

The results of this study have implications for mathematics education. First, this study provides insight into the nuances and complexities of mathematics education students’ learning to teach mathematics for social justice, including a list of the course readings and activities related to teaching mathematics for social justice and a thick description of the class lecture on teaching mathematics for social justice. Second, this study provides suggestions for the practice of mathematics teacher educators based on the study results. Third, this study provides directions for future research, including research on instructional strategies that may lead to more substantial commitments to teaching for social justice and research on how mathematics education students’ beliefs can be impacted even beyond the mathematics teacher preparation program.