Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Brette Garner

Second Advisor

Paul Michalec

Third Advisor

P. Bruce Uhrmacher

Fourth Advisor

Bin Ramke


Culturally relevant, Education, Mathematics, Social justice, Social justice math, Social justice mathematics


Teaching mathematics for social justice is a distinctive approach to mathematics education that seeks to have students use mathematics to navigate their identities, understand their lived experiences, examine inequities, and become agents of change. Current research provides a rich explanation of what teaching mathematics for social justice entails. Still, there is a need for research that studies how to move from theory to practice. The purpose of this research study is to examine the experience of teaching mathematics for social justice within my fifth-grade mathematics classroom for myself and my students, analyze the extent to which students’ ethnic and academic identities are impacted, and analyze the extent to which their mathematical achievement is impacted. This study also investigates what emerges from combining the methods of action research and auto-criticism. This research employs methods from action research and auto-criticism, such as journaling, student interviews, and pretest-posttest data.

Findings show that in my own experience with teaching mathematics for social justice, I redefined my pedagogical beliefs and responsibility, reconciled tensions between institutional expectations and my commitment to teaching math for social justice, and established a community of social justice mathematicians. Analysis of the students’ experience with learning mathematics for social justice demonstrates that students reconceptualized the purpose of mathematics and reconceptualized their place in the world as their ethnic identity, academic identity, and math achievement progressed. Finally, findings show that merging action research and auto-criticism results in a more complete understanding of how teaching mathematics for social justice impacts the classroom ecology. Ultimately, this study provides an in-depth look into the experience of teaching mathematics for social justice in an elementary classroom.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Krystal Giles


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

250 pgs


Mathematics education, Middle school education, Multicultural education

Available for download on Friday, April 11, 2025