Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood, Multilingual, and Special Education

First Committee Member

Joseph Morgan

Second Committee Member

Alain Bengochea

Third Committee Member

Monica Brown

Fourth Committee Member

Tiberio Garza

Number of Pages



The recent implementation of rigorous standards in mathematics education has required shifts in classroom practices. Standards-based instruction places large emphasis on students’ conceptual understanding, requiring them to demonstrate high cognitive levels of mastery of the content through communication of their mathematical reasoning. Teachers and students’ mathematical discursive practices in the classroom can lead to meaningful discussions that integrate students’ explanation, justification, and arguments of ideas or claims and understanding of the content. Research on teachers’ discursive practices has shown that (a) teacher talk tends to dominate classroom instruction and (b) classroom discourse lacks frequent opportunities for teacher-student and peer interactions. The purpose of this exploratory sequential mixed methods study was to increase understanding regarding teachers’ beliefs and practices related to the planning and implementation of mathematical discourse in inclusive general education elementary mathematics settings. Specifically, this research study centered on the development of a valid and reliable instrument on teachers’ beliefs and practices related to mathematical discourse that could be used by teachers and researchers interested in the implementation of equitable mathematical discursive practices in the classroom that promote students’ conceptual understanding. The development of the survey occurred over a multiphase process: content development (qualitative data collection and analysis), survey development and pretesting (survey validity measures), and pilot testing (survey reliability measures). Six general and three special education teachers participated in Phase 1 and 2, and 18 teachers (i.e., 13 general and 5 special education teachers) participated in Phase 3. Data sources included individual interviews, a focus group, classroom observations, teachers’ lesson plans, and the Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices on Mathematical Discourse Survey. Qualitative and quantitative findings showed that teachers believe mathematical discourse is intuitively implemented during instruction without much planning, all students should participate in the classroom discourse, and mathematical discourse should be explicitly taught and modeled to students. Findings on teachers’ perceived practices showed that teachers mainly utilize discourse to assess understanding by soliciting students’ mathematical reasoning, generally use the curriculum to guide their mathematical discourse practices and implement varied grouping strategies to facilitate discourse. Findings on teachers’ observed practices indicated that (a) teacher-led, authoritative discourse dominated discursive practices during mathematics instruction, (b) discursive practices were mostly focused on assessing understanding and addressing misconceptions, (c) participation and engagement generally involved all students in the classroom, and (d) planning for mathematical discourse was solely based on activities explicitly included in the curriculum. Based on these findings a 50-item Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices on Mathematical Discourse Survey was created, pretested, and pilot tested for validity and reliability purposes. The alpha coefficient for each of the two survey constructs suggested that overall measures of validity and reliability were sufficient by showing relatively high internal consistency to support the survey use in future research and program and professional development planning.


Discourse; Emergent Bilinguals; Learning Disabilities; Mathematics


Education | Science and Mathematics Education | Special Education and Teaching

File Format


File Size

2500 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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