Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Barbara King

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Maria Fernandez

Second Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Maria Lovett

Third Advisor's Committee Title

committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Zahra Hazari

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

committee member


Teacher agency, Agency, Math Teacher education, Math education, Phenomenography, Teacher voice, Practice theory

Date of Defense



Teacher agency plays a critical role in determining teachers’ identities and decision-making abilities. It is also key in developing teachers’ sense of purpose, which leads to forming school environments where teachers are happy and thriving. However, teacher agency has not been researched in depth. Exploring teacher agency is essential in understanding how to create spaces where teachers feel comfortable and eager to share their personal skill sets. In this qualitative study, phenomenography was employed to detect and describe variations in mathematics teachers’ experiences of agency. This study investigates teacher agency by analyzing the experiences of 14 mathematics teachers teaching in Title I high schools. The purposes of the study were to examine how teachers enact and experience agency and investigate the factors that influence mathematics teachers to enact agency.

The data analysis resulted in the emergence of four themes representative of the different ways teachers enact agency: acquiring resources, implementing alternative methods, improving the school environment, and constructing personal relationships. Similarities and differences between teachers’ theme patterns were explored to create five distinct categories of description: Problem Focused, Peer Support, Communicators, Instruction Centered, and Go Getters. To investigate the factors that may influence teachers to enact agency, each category of description was analyzed, resulting in two factors: Administrative Relationships and Collegial Relationships. The findings of the study suggest that modifying Administrative Relationships and Collegial Relationships may lead to changes in how teachers experience agency.





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