Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Nicole Weber

Second Advisor

Danny Martin

Third Advisor

Susan Rauchwerk


For social justice and change to occur in classrooms, it is necessary to consider the perspective of learners. Voices from learners around math education is limited in research, especially for younger students. This study examined math class from the perspective of elementary students, with math identity and equitable mathematics instruction as the core. A quantitative coded approach from student survey drawings (n=348) was used for comparative statistical analysis, and a qualitative observation method of categorizing attributes of interest related to emotions in the classroom was used to pull a case study of drawings for deeper analysis. Summary results from teacher surveys (n=123) were used for the triangulation of data for both the quantitative and qualitative analysis, where the results examined “what is math” and teacher’s emotions around mathematics. This study found a trend of increasing negative emotions over the years, where negative words were more prevalent and included visual depictions of emotions. Equitable instruction codes representing “collaboration” and “visuals” elements were not frequent in the drawings. There was variability from student to student, as some captured a series of nuanced experiences while others provided little detail in their drawings. Analyzing data from student drawings provides a way to humanize learners and gain more understanding of their complex selves, practically and easily to implement. Collecting student drawings can strengthen relationships, provide a reflection on the learning environment, and act as an artifact to start conversations. Drawings can also reduce the power dynamics in the form of self-expression, which addresses a key issue in researching critical pedagogies and social justice.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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