School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Ellen Ziegler


Elementary Mathematics, Concrete, Representational, Abstract, CRA, Constructivist




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe elementary teachers’ lived experiences of implementing constructivist strategies, specifically the concrete, representational, and abstract approach (CRA) when teaching mathematics in a midwestern school district by asking: What are elementary teachers’ lived experiences implementing constructivist strategies? The theory that guided this study is Bruner’s constructivist learning theory, as the enactive-iconic-symbolic learning he described remarkably parallels the concrete, representational, abstract (CRA) framework for teaching and learning mathematics. This qualitative study consisted of 10 elementary math teachers who instructed kindergarten through fifth grades in Montgomery City Schools in suburban Ohio. Data from interviews, focus groups, and journal entries were coded and placed into emerging themes. A detailed descriptive analysis of the data was included, and a complete description of the participants’ lived experiences were integrated. Four themes developed through data analysis using Moustakas’s modified method of analysis in this phenomenological study and include (a) mathematical understanding with concrete objects, (b) mathematical concepts with representations, (c) providing inquiry with abstract problems, and (d) recognizing needs with abstract concepts. These themes corresponded to the theoretical framework of the study. This study confirmed Bruner’s learning theory through participants shared lived experiences teaching math with constructivist strategies. Teachers experienced success using CRA to help teach students conceptual understanding of mathematics.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 18, 2024

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