Graduate Program

Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion

Summer 2019

Thesis Director

John Bickford

Thesis Committee Member

Rick Anderson

Thesis Committee Member

David Bartz


This study investigates the perspectives of opportunities and challenges of middle school mathematics’ teachers. To gain these perspectives, an ethnographic study was conducted by interviewing four middle school mathematics teachers in central Illinois. The results of this study imply that teachers of different backgrounds and teaching environments have varying perspectives about challenges and opportunities in the classroom. Limitations of this study include but are not limited to, the researcher having one year to conduct the research, only four teachers from two schools being interviewed, interviewees teaching different grade levels, no rural setting involvement, one educator having little teaching experience, teachers’ perceptions, and interviews taking place via telephone instead of face-to-face. The significance of this study for school personnel and researchers raises awareness of the importance of teachers being prepared to enter the classroom, educators receiving ample professional development to stay on top of changing standards, school districts receiving adequate funding to provide quality resources, and administrators and instructional coaches offering support and creating a positive, trusting environment. This study has revealed what resources and support the interviewed educators feel is valuable in their teaching success.