Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

David W. Stinson

Second Advisor

Stephanie Behm Cross

Third Advisor

Teri Holbrook

Fourth Advisor

Sarah Bridges Rhoads

Fifth Advisor

Elizabeth de Freitas


Leading mathematics education scholars have called for different theoretical possibilities (Stinson & Walshaw, 2017) and broader considerations of what “counts” (D. B. Martin, Gholson, & Leonard, 2010) in mathematics education research. This study—situated at the intersections of statistics education, mathematics education, and qualitative inquiry—responds to these calls through an intellectual exploration of Karen Barad’s (2007) readings of Niels Bohr’s philosophy–physics and her questions of what it might look like to do science while valuing both objectivity and posthumanist accounts of reality. The study considers how taking up data with different theories and methods in mathematics education research produces different knowledges and the ways this rethinking opens up different possibilities for school mathematics.

To bring clarity to the theoretical exploration, mathematics teaching and learning at the classroom level was examined. Two middle school mathematics teachers who taught a 10-week mathematics enrichment course Mathematics and Current Events were observed and interviewed. During the course, teachers and students researched provocative topics in the media and considered the ways in which mathematics interacts with how they understand the world. The course focused on the statistics that are presented by the media and the ways that citizens might use mathematics to make meanings of important problems. Observation and interview data were mapped to aspects of statistical literacy (e.g., Wild & Pfannkuch,1999) informing practice in middle grades classrooms and bringing questions forward for consideration about how critical dispositions of statistical thinking might be developed in middle grades mathematics classrooms.

The theoretical exploration of the diffraction (Barad, 2007; Haraway, 1992) of interpretivist and poststructuralist readings of the data illustrates that different theories and broader considerations in mathematics education research can open up important new spaces in the field of mathematics education research. Shifts in what is legitimized in the field of mathematics education research makes cracks in hardened places in the field that can provoke new questions and, in turn, new methods. In the end, different theories and ways of knowing allow diverse ways of doing science and broader views on what gets counted in knowledge production.