Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Rema Reynolds, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Anderson, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Wendy Burke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Clyde Barnett III, Ph.D.


Since the 1960s, there has been an effort among the mathematical education community to shift instructional practices from a focus on arithmetic, memorizing rules, and completing practice worksheets to instructional practices that allow students to see mathematics as content that requires thinking and pattern explorations. Many mathematics teachers have not fully embraced these shifts in instructional practice. This study aimed to examine secondary mathematics teachers’ experiences and how those experiences connect to teachers’ implementation of student-centered instructional practices in the lessons they design. This qualitative study utilized a grounded theory approach to examine how a teacher’s experiences as a student of mathematics and instruction impact the instructional practices considered for use in their classroom. Two research questions guided this study: (a) How do teachers understand the student-centered instructional practices they implement in their classrooms? and (b) How do teachers experience the implementation of student-centered instructional practices? The study used two interviews and classroom observation to collect data from the 12 secondary mathematics teachers who were participants in this study. This study was conducted during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. Student-centered instructional practices are significant ways to support students in developing their mathematical knowledge. For many teachers, these practices were not a part of the secondary mathematics instruction they experienced. Student-centered instructional practices can be challenging to incorporate into a teacher’s instructional repertoire due to the misalignment with an educator’s own student experience. This study has identified two key experiences that support teachers in considering student-centered instructional practices as a part of their instruction. These experiences are the failure of an individual’s mathematical knowledge in a way that causes identity reconstruction and the belief that learning mathematics is a pursuit meant to increase mathematical knowledge and develop critical habits of mind. In addition, this study identified three key supports for helping teachers build their knowledge and skill in utilizing student-centered instructional practices. These supports for assisting teachers in incorporating these practices into their repertoire are (a) collaborating with others, (b) engaging in long-term learning opportunities around student-centered instructional practices, and (c) having student-centered instructional practices modeled through mathematical content.