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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Differentiating geometry instruction by students' strongest method of communicating mathematical ideas
by Jaffe, Elisabeth, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2010, 154; 3425017
Abstract (Summary)

This study determined if mathematical understanding, performance, and attitudes improve when students participate in lessons designed to allow them to use their strongest method of communicating mathematical ideas (MCMI)—writing, speaking, diagramming, modeling, and symbolizing. Tenth grade geometry students in a public high school were grouped by their strongest MCMI and performed tasks in which they approached problems using their strength. As a class each group shared their findings, and discussed the problems from five different perspectives.

To assess mathematical understanding ten students, one high-performing and one low-performing student from each MCMI group, participated in interviews in which they did problems pertaining to the material in class. Their level of understanding was determined based upon the level of Bloom's revised Taxonomy at which they performed. To assess mathematical performance, unit test scores for all students were evaluated. To assess students' attitudes towards mathematics all students in the study completed the Fennema-Sherman survey based on a Likert-type scale.

Eight of the ten students interviewed experienced an increase in their level of understanding. The remaining two students experienced no improvement, but no student experienced deterioration in mathematical understanding. From student responses during the interviews it was clear that mathematical confidence improved particularly for low performing students. The changes in mathematical performance were not clear. Students enjoyed working collaboratively and approaching problems through different lenses. They believed the emphasis on conceptual understanding was beneficial.

While this study emphasized a qualitative analysis of changes in mathematical understanding if students are grouped by their strongest MCMI, it also shed light on the potential for future research in this area.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Walker, Erica
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Secondary education
Keywords: Ability grouping, Geometry instruction, Mathematical ideas
Publication Number: 3425017
ISBN: 978-1-124-25391-6
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