Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning


Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Michele White

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Stanfa

Third Advisor

Dr. Erin Kraal


Many teachers hold the belief that one is either a “math person” or not, which impacts their mathematical mindset and instructional practices, and in turn impacts their students’ mindsets and learning experiences. Fostering the development of a mathematical mindset in teachers is critical to dispelling the “math person” myth. As we are metaphorical in nature (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980), the metaphors that we use to conceptualize mathematics are born out of and impact our experiences in its study and provide a means for eliminating this myth. In this mixed-methods study I sought to understand the metaphors that in-service elementary teachers use to conceptualize mathematics; how those metaphors impact their mindset and instructional practices; and the impact of professional development guided by the metaphor mathematics is art on their mindset and instructional practices in mathematics. I studied four in-service elementary teachers in a small rural district and collected data on teacher mathematical mindset, instructional practices, and metaphorical frameworks both before and after engaging the participants in professional development guided by the metaphor mathematics is art. The results suggest that elementary in-service teachers predominantly conceptualize mathematics through eight metaphors - mathematics is a destination, a product, a process, a discovery, human, lens, work, and art. The results also indicate that there may be a relationship between teachers’ metaphorical frameworks for mathematics and their mindset and instructional practices and that the combination of mathematics is a process, a discovery, human, and art as dominant metaphors may positively impact their mathematical mindset instructional practices.



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