Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Teacher Education

Major Professor

Lynn Hodge

Committee Members

Stergios Botzakis, MariBeth Coleman, Gary Skolits


The purpose of this study was to examine preservice teachers’ (PSTs) understandings of mathematical mindsets after using an online gamification tool (OGT). Drawing on a situated learning perspective, this study explored how and in what ways PSTs engaged with an OGT as they learned about mathematical mindsets. In particular, the aspects PSTs found benefiting and limiting to their understandings of mathematical mindsets were examined. The participants included 10 secondary mathematics PSTs who are part of an undergraduate program for mathematics majors to also obtain an education minor. Data was collected through interviews and student work completed using the OGT. As for data analysis procedures, a process of coding methods was utilized that drew heavily on suggestions from Saldaña (2013) and Charmaz (2000) to analyze PSTs’ experiences and perceptions using the OGT. This inductive approach emphasizes the development of themes from data provided by the participants to better understand their conceptualizations and experiences learning about mathematical mindsets. The three themes identified regarding PSTs’ understandings of mathematical mindsets were 1) Providing Challenging Learning Experiences and Tasks, 2) Sending Growth Mindset Messages, and 3) Valuing Mistakes. The four themes for benefiting aspects were 1) Experiential Learning, 2) Social Interactions, 3) Autonomy, and 4) Engagement. As for limiting aspects, the three identified were 1) Time Constraints, 2) Clarity of Game Structure, and 3) Development of Some Critical Understandings. Overall, the PSTs appeared to develop a better understanding of how to support student growth mindsets and what that looks like in math classrooms. Across their interviews, PSTs described teaching practices that they believed foster a growth mindset. Therefore, using the OGT seems to have provided contexts that helped make PSTs’ understandings of mathematical mindsets more concrete.

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