Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Summer 6-21-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Susan Swars Auslander, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Carla Tanguay, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Wurzburg, Ph.D.


Mathematical discourse is a critical component of effective mathematics instruction, but it remains one of the least implemented strategies in mathematics classrooms. This exploratory case study examined how elementary teachers understand, plan, and implement mathematical discourse practices, with a particular focus on connections to the curriculum. Participants included three kindergarten teachers in an urban-situated elementary school. Data were collected through: two sets of documents, including the provided curriculum and teacher-created lesson plans; two individual, semi-structured interviews with each participant; and two classroom observations of each participant’s mathematics instructional practices. The data were analyzed through the constant comparative method. Interview data were coded through a three-stage coding cycle, resulting in emergent themes. Data collected through documents and observations were categorized and compared to the interview codes created through the coding cycle to determine themes. The findings show teachers had a desire to engage in mathematical discourse but there were barriers to implementation such as time, academic language, and COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, there was no appreciable influence of the written curriculum on the enacted curriculum. However, the utilization of a curriculum with supports for classroom discourse may give teachers tools to engage students in more high press lines of questioning. In the context of a stressed work environment, teachers did alter the curriculum to simplify and lessen the cognitive load of the discourse for students. The findings illuminate how teachers would benefit from practice with mathematical discourse in the classroom within the contexts that already exist for them, such as collaborative planning sessions where teachers can become more comfortable anticipating lines of questioning. Additionally, teachers may benefit from attending to the types of questions with which they engage students during the lesson planning process.

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