Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

David Webb

Second Advisor

Kris Gutiérrez

Third Advisor

Victoria Hand

Fourth Advisor

William Penuel

Fifth Advisor

Luis Radford


Realistic mathematics education (RME) is guided by the notion that mathematics is the human activity of mathematizing the world. In much of the RME literature, mathematizing is theorized to be an individual activity, and the products of mathematizing—mathematical productions and mathematical knowledge—are theorized to be individual constructions and private knowledge. In this dissertation I extend these ideas and discuss how mathematizing is mediated by, and distributed across, cultural artifacts. I therefore argue for the importance of adopting a cultural perspective within RME. My arguments are theoretical and empirical. My empirical argument is drawn from design-based research in high-school classrooms. My theoretical argument is made on the basis of historical and contemporary texts in RME. Adopting a cultural perspective has implications for many of RME’s key principles. Exploring these implications is the next frontier in RME research.