Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lynn Liao Hodge

Committee Members

Stergios Botzakis, Tara C. Moore, J. Patrick Biddix


The purpose of this study to understand how teachers in rural southeastern United States conceptualize and make use of resources to manage the dilemmas they experience. This is a response to a lack of focus on the rural context in educational research, making it a, “pragmatic necessity and empirical imperative to understand the individuals who teach in these districts” (Burton et al., 2013), and to an understudied area in mathematics education research—resources. Thus, this study adds to the literature by taking a situated perspective to study the following research question and sub questions: (RQ) How do mathematics teachers in rural settings make use of resources to mediate dilemmas in practice?; (SQ1) From the teachers’ perspective, what are the dilemmas of practice that mathematics teachers in a rural setting experience?; (SQ2) How do mathematics teachers in rural settings conceptualize resources for the teaching and learning of mathematics?To explore the research question and sub-questions, tenants of an instrumental qualitative case study (Stake, 1995) were used explore a sample of five rural secondary mathematics teachers (RSMT) dilemmas and resources in-context-in-practice. For each participant, data were collected over a two-month period and include two interviews, one classroom observation, and teachers’ completion of three resource diaries (structured reflections about planning and teaching a mathematics lesson). Analysis from this study shed light on the RSMTs perspective of resources for the teaching and learning of mathematics and bring focus to the mediating role resources with respect to dilemmas they experience. Across the RSMTs resources were categorized as school materials, curriculum materials, other teachers, experience, and students, and dilemmas were identified within the dilemma of ambitious teaching, the dilemma of curriculum materials, and the dilemma of control. In mediating dilemmas, the internet, teaching and professional experiences, and other teachers act as primary resources the RSMTs utilized, and, though present, some structures (e.g., professional learning communities) are not being properly implemented to support teachers’ dilemma management. Directions for future research and theoretical and practical implications are also discussed.

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