Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lynn L. Hodge

Committee Members

Lauren A. R. Moret, Stergios G. Botzakis, Thomas N. Turner, Christopher G. Wright


Rural areas are home to approximately 20% of the population in the United States. Schools that serve rural populations are geographically isolated and lack resources when compared to urban and suburban schools. Educators who serve students in rural schools are often born and raised in the same system in which they ultimately work. Elementary teachers are typically certified as generalists. As a result, many report a lack of confidence or proficiency in mathematics. This dissertation offers an analysis of the planning practices of rural elementary school mathematics teachers in a district located in the southeastern United States. The study sought to understand the factors that influence teachers’ decision-making during the lesson planning process and the results of those influences. Additionally, the study aimed to understand the ways in which teachers plan for a lesson when they are out of their comfort zone.

This multiple-case study is qualitative and includes three participants. The analysis was conducted through the lens of a situated perspective—that is, the complex activity system of lesson planning is a minimally decomposable system that shares a reflexive relationship with the context in which it occurs. Findings indicate that more support is needed in rural schools with relation to purposeful lesson planning.

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