Graduation Date

5-2016

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Abstract

By eighth grade some students believe they are “not good” and never will be successful at mathematics. Discouraged by poor grades, negative feedback from teachers or demoralized by repeated academic failure, these students disengage from their mathematics classwork. In some cases, mathematics intervention classes are a last chance to get them back on track to qualify for Algebra I in 9th grade. The purpose of this study is to identify strategies to reengage students by increasing their academic content knowledge in mathematics and boosting their self-esteem and sense of belonging in the school setting. The review of the literature identifies elements that students need, such as a nurturing environment, a positive psychology and an intellectual growth mindset, but revealed little as far as a successfully implementable strategy that could be applied to an in-school day intervention class curriculum.

The sample of convenience is a small class of 11 students in a suburban school setting. This is an action research study using a mixed methods approach analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data. Intervention students learn primarily through a computer-based mathematics program (Ascend) and teacher led instruction. Students are concurrently enrolled in a traditional 8th grade mathematics course.

Results indicate that within the intervention class, student academic achievement in remediated skills improved through teaching strategies aimed at increasing emotional well being and the use the individualized computer-based mathematics program. The increase was more substantial when students were given the freedom to control certain aspects of their learning experience. The happier they were in class and the more they believed success was possible, the better they performed. However, this mindset and performance did not carry over into their traditional 8th grade math classes. Students showed no improvement in grades from the start of the year through the end of the year in traditional classes.