Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Robert Stupnisky


Widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (NGA & CCSSO, 2010) and other career and college readiness standards have prompted changes in the pedagogical practices of secondary mathematics teachers in the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine factors contributing to a math teacher’s willingness to alter pedagogical approaches. Key to the research was development of an instrument for measuring openness to change. The survey tool was created based on constructs drawn from the literature and was emailed to secondary mathematics teachers in the United States

(N = 571). The instrument consisted of 65 questions pertaining to demographics, conception of mathematics, perceptions of learning mathematics, math mindset, teacher self-efficacy, professional identity, ambiguity tolerance, and attitude toward change. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses showed a six-factor structure to be effective for predicting openness to change. Structural equation modeling (SEM) techniques were used to test complexities among latent constructs and to support a theoretical model of correlations.

Results revealed significant differences along demographic lines on the openness-to-change scale, with females more open to adaptation than males, urban teachers more open than rural, and those without a math degree more open than math majors. Since high school teachers were much more likely than middle school teachers to hold a math degree—72.2 percent compared to 27.4 percent—this last result relates to the finding that middle school teachers are more change-ready than their high school counterparts. No significant correlation was found between the change-scale score and age, experience, or years spent teaching mathematics.

The structural equation model tested in this study showed the six latent constructs combining in complex ways to explain math teacher willingness to alter teaching strategies. The structural equation model developed here serves to illuminate complex issues around math teacher change and provides a framework for diagnosing and remedying professional development challenges. The model suggests instructional change can be facilitated through attention to teachers’ conception of mathematics, perceptions of learning mathematics, math mindset, self-efficacy, professional identity, and ambiguity tolerance.