Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Susan Swars Auslander

Second Advisor

Stephanie Z. Smith

Third Advisor

Sarah Bridges-Rhoads

Fourth Advisor

David Stinson


Teacher beliefs have long been a focus in mathematics education research as well as the broader field of education. One basic rationale for this emphasis has been to understand potential relationships between teacher beliefs about mathematics teaching and learning and enacted instructional practices, with recent research complicating these findings, suggesting beliefs are more complex with less of a linear relationship (e.g., Fives & Buehl, 2012; Skott, 2015a). In this study, rather than attempting to define teacher beliefs or dispute their influence, teacher beliefs are reconceptualized as entangled. This project was designed to support Prospective Elementary Mathematics Specialists (PEMSs) negotiate their beliefs amidst other aspects of teaching, addressing the messiness of beliefs while navigating their roles as mathematics teachers and teacher leaders. The participants in this study were three PEMSs completing a university K–5 Mathematics Endorsement program’s field practicum course. Data consists of classroom observations, semi-structured individual interviews, focus group interviews, and document analyses. Poststructural theories of subjectivity (e.g., Britzman, 1994; Davies, 2000; Foucault, 1982) were engaged to consider PEMSs as subjects whose beliefs about teaching and learning mathematics are entangled, impossible to think as separate or pre-existing (Derrida, 1967/1974). Analysis consisted of writing as inquiry (Richardson & St. Pierre, 2005), making (re)visible multiple ways of being and becoming subjects in mathematics teacher education and enabling a story of teacher beliefs entangled. This reconceptualization gave PEMSs a space to navigate and negotiate the tensions of teacher beliefs and their instructional practice. These tensions were crafted into conversations (Bridges-Rhoads, 2011; Davies, 2009; Shor & Freire, 1987), including creative analytical processes of writing dialogue, narratives, and poetry (Richardson, 1994, 1997, 2000). These “results” are perhaps more accessible, contributing to the current conversation about teacher beliefs as well as extending it to address important issues of perspective and methodology (Jackson & Mazzei, 2009; Koro-Ljungberg, 2015). This perspective and methodology have opened up the space to tell this different story of beliefs-entangled—messy, moving, and, most importantly, negotiable.