Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Christine D. Thomas - Chair

Second Advisor

Jennifer Esposito

Third Advisor

Janet Burns

Fourth Advisor

Pier Junor Clarke

Fifth Advisor

Draga Vidakovic


There is a shortage of secondary mathematics teachers throughout the United States (Howard, 2003, Matus, 1999). This deficit is heightened in urban areas (Bracey, 2002; Howard, 2003). Understanding how urban teachers develop into highly qualified, motivated teachers of urban learners may provide guidance in decreasing the shortage of urban secondary mathematics teachers and provide direction for teacher education programs in preparing future teachers of urban learners. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the experiences pre-service teachers undergo during student teaching and how those experiences impact their views on teaching in an urban context, as well as how their experiences impact the construction of their identities as teachers of urban learners. Six secondary mathematics pre-service teachers who have made the conscious decision to teach in urban schools participate in this study. Phenomenology is used as a philosophical and methodological framework. The theories of teacher thinking, situated cognition, and social identity provided a foundation to examine to research questions: How do pre-service teachers experience student teaching in an urban context; how do pre-service teachers’ experiences impact their views on teaching in urban schools; and how do pre-service teachers’ experiences impact the construction of their identities as teachers of urban learners? Data were collected via initial interviews, journaling throughout the student teaching experience, and phenomenological interviews. Colaizzi’s method for phenomenological data analysis was used to develop textual and structural descriptions of the phenomenon. This method of analysis led to concluding that constructive student teacher – cooperating teacher relationships lead to positive views of teaching in urban contexts and collective teaching dispositions. Negative relationships caused an aversion to teaching in urban environments and individualistic classroom practices. In regards to the construction of an identity as teachers of urban learners, the quality of the student teacher-cooperating teacher relationship was a factor. When an affirming relationship was present the student teachers embraced some of the characteristics of their cooperating teachers. Whereas, detrimental relationships caused the pre-service teachers to dismiss the practices of their cooperating teachers and the rejection of any performance feedback provided.

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