Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




College of Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Lee Hunter

Second Advisor

Kristal Curry

Third Advisor

Dodi Hodges


This study focused on automaticity or the choices we make without conscious thought. Specifically, the study examined how math teachers improved their understanding of the practice and evolution of culturally responsive teaching by analyzing the lived experiences and metacognition of practicing middle school teachers as they assess student work in mathematics. The potential impact of implicit stereotypes, instructor expectations, assessment design, cultural considerations, and other variables on the grading process was investigated. The purpose of this case study was to uncover teachers’ implicit biases as it relates to grading student work in a middle school math class.

This qualitative study was conducted in a northeastern county in South Carolina. It involved three scheduled interviews and numerous voluntary observations with four middle school math teachers. All four teachers teach multiple levels of math classes; however, only general math classes were used for this study. The conceptual framework underpinning the study was Costa & Garmston’s Cognitive Coaching (2016), and the Literature Review focused on implicit biases, gender and ethnicity in the STEM fields, biases in the mathematical classroom, culturally responsive teaching, grading biases, and consultation/coaching models.

All participants demonstrated implicit biases when evaluating student work in general education classrooms. A variety of formative and summative assignments were observed. As teachers graded, handwriting, achievement, and behavior biases were revealed. As participants grew increasingly aware and began to identify their personal biases, the researcher implemented the Cognitive Coaching framework to provide the support necessary to accept them and shift teachers’ mindsets (Harris, 2023).