Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding college students' disconnections with mathematics
by Edwards, Karen, Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2010, 169; 3396475
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the disconnections introductory college mathematics students experience with mathematics. The experiences of six former mathematics students from their earliest memories forward to present day were explored. The study employed an interpretive case study and an action research methodology to present a detailed, historical record of the students' interactions and disconnections with learning quantitative material.

The study has three primary purposes: (1) to record faithfully each participant's story dealing with quantitative/mathematical learning experiences; (2) to understand their disconnections with mathematics so that the information might be used to inform the author's reflective practice; (3) to add to the body of knowledge that already exists regarding students' difficulty learning mathematics. Findings indicate that overlaying relational theory, reflection, and students' knowledge construction leads to increased understanding, bringing the needs of students more clearly into focus and providing ways to proceed in the future. Students' firsthand accounts of a lifetime of disconnection with mathematics are unforgettable and compelling.

The study identifies the following themes that need consideration: caring and being cared for, connection to self and self-capacity, connection to the world to make meaning and construct knowledge, pitfalls of school efficiency, social standing, and acceptance by peers, prior knowledge and experience, and academic assistance bridging the disconnections. The author examines each of these themes individually, but also recognizes that a full understanding lies in the overlaps occurring between them.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rodgers, Carol A.
Commitee: Kouba, Vicky L., Raider-Roth, Miriam
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Theory and Practice-Curriculum and Instruction
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Mathematics education, Curriculum development, Higher education
Keywords: Action/classroom based, College students, Interpretive case study, Knowledge construction, Mathematics, Reflection, Relational theory
Publication Number: 3396475
ISBN: 9781109641707
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