Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

David W. Stinson, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Joyce E. King, Ph. D.

Third Advisor

Janice B. Fournillier, Ph. D.

Fourth Advisor

Christine D. Thomas, Ph. D.


Research and scholarship in mathematics education address a variety of concepts that benefit students and influences the pedagogy of educators responsible for improving student learning and achievement. Recently, mathematics education researchers have investigated the effects and outcomes of instructional practices (e.g., Shirvani, 2009), technology integration (e.g., Wachira & Keengwe, 2011), the revision or modernization of standards and content development (e.g., Thomas & Edson, 2015), achievement gaps (e.g., Flores, 2007), science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational initiatives (e.g., Stohlmann, Moore, McClelland, & Roehrig, 2011), student achievement or performance (e.g., Harwell, Post, Medhanie, Dupuis, & LeBeau, 2013), and student growth (Betebenner, 2009). Experiences as a student and throughout my 12-year teaching career have influenced my belief that student engagement, performance, and achievement associated with the aforementioned facets of mathematics education research are dependent on a student’s mathematical identity: (a) belief in her or his ability to engage and be successful in mathematics; (b) belief in the utility, value, and significance of mathematics in relation to her or his personal and cultural identity; and (c) her or his experiences with K–12 mathematics both inside and outside the classroom (Martin, 2000).

To explore the construction and development of mathematical identity, Afrocentricity (e.g., Asante, 1983) and analytic autoethnography (e.g., R. Anderson, 2006) were used to study my personal experiences and the shared experiences with my participants from our time as students in elementary, middle, and high school. The goal of this study was to identify the practices, policies, and experiences related to the components of our mathematical identities to better understand how to assist students in the construction and development of their own positive mathematical identities. An analysis of the data revealed that school culture, engagement with mathematics beyond the classroom, and connections between content in K–12 mathematics and related outcomes after graduation are essential to establishing experiences that prepare students for a lifetime of numbers, calculations, estimations, mathematical reasoning, and a variety of mathematics related phenomena. Implications for students, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors, and others involved with the K–12 experiences of students are discussed.


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