Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

Number of Pages



The research study investigates the influence of teacher participation in a graduate course fostering the development of algebraic thinking for K--8 students on teacher understanding of the nature of algebraic thinking and on the incorporation of the teaching of algebraic thinking, guided by student discourse, into practice. The traditional high school algebra courses, with high failure rates, are not meeting the challenge of teaching algebra to every student. Thus, mathematics educators and researchers have proposed that problems in the teaching and learning of algebra be addressed before the middle school years by integrating the development of algebraic thinking and reasoning into the elementary school mathematics curriculum; This study explores how three elementary teachers introduce the algebraic concepts of equivalence, relational thinking, and the development and justification of conjectures to first and third grade students. The research is framed against the examination of teacher change in practice within the context of a professional development experience. The three aspects of change that constitute the conceptual framework are change as part of the learning to teach process, change in teacher understanding of the nature of mathematics, and change in teacher understanding of the nature of algebraic thinKing The qualitative case study of these three elementary teachers is focused on the personal, situational, and institutional factors that are conducive to effecting this change in practice; The constant comparative analysis of the data collected from interviews, classroom observations, journal reflections, and survey responses revealed six common themes across the cases. All three teachers possess a high level of interest in teaching mathematics, believe that traditional teaching strategies are not working for their students, demonstrate ambiguity about the definition of algebraic thinking, cite a lack of curriculum resources to support the teaching of algebraic thinking, desire collaboration with like-minded teachers, and are committed to continuing the teaching of algebraic thinKing These teachers successfully added to their mathematics content knowledge and either incorporated new pedagogy into their teaching or refined an existing constructivist approach to teaching and learning as they integrated the teaching of algebraic thinking into the classroom.


Algebraic; Algebraic Thinking; Exploration; Instructional; Instructional Strategies; Mathematics Teachers; Promote; Professional Development; Strategies; Teachers; Thinking

Controlled Subject

Mathematics--Study and teaching; Teachers--Training of

File Format


File Size

4106.24 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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