Thesis Title

An Exploration of the Benefits of Lifeskills Processing on Third Grade Independent Learning Decisions to Bolster Non-Ability Grouped Mathematics Instruction

Graduation Date

Spring 2003

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD


This participatory action research project attempted to improve students’ independent decision making during mathematics instruction through integration of language based character education strategies. The researcher was concerned that the current emphasis on achievement could result in increased use of ability grouping. This provided a rationale to develop and present an instructional model that would provide an option that, due to improved student decision making, makes it easier for the teacher to deliver differentiated instruction without resorting to ability grouping. The literature review focused on grouping strategies and character education/Lifeskills. The study itself presents the teacher researcher’s exploration of the utilization of “Lifeskills Processing”; using sixteen core character traits (caring, common sense, cooperation, courage, curiosity, effort, flexibility, friendship, initiative, integrity, organization, patience, perseverance, problem solving, responsibility, and sense of humor) as a basis for student planning and reflection before, during, and after mathematics learning activities. This type of integration has traditionally taken place only during language arts and social studies instruction. Through use of class discussions and charts, an observational protocol, student journals, and lesson plan notes, the researcher was able to facilitate and document improved student decision making during mathematics instruction, as evidenced by increased on- task behavior, improved effort, use of cooperative group skills, and an overall improvement in the students' ability and desire to be self-directed learners. The researcher presents an argument for using these benefits as a vehicle to developing a flexible and inclusive third grade mathematics program. The study concludes that character education is not just about helping children develop positive character traits, but that integrating character education into the core curriculum can also facilitate improved students learning and provide impetus to advocate against ability grouping.

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