Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


College of Education and Human Services


Early Childhood, Elementary and Literacy Education

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Nancy Lauter

Committee Member

Elizabeth Erwin

Committee Member

Susan Wray


Anyone who listens to the news hears many negative comments on the status of education in the United States today. Many say that our standards and the quality of our education have declined. We have fallen behind European and Asian countries. Our requirements and expectations have been lowered. Yet, we have never stepped back to assess what has changed and why. If we had to point to one detail to provide insight into what has changed, we would name the internet. We would call the technology explosion in the 21st century a “singularity”; an event that changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back (Nicol & Butler 1996).

The influx and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decade of the 20th century has changed our lives. It is hypothesized that today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. Our education system must adapt to these changes. In this paper, I propose a change in how we teach mathematical concepts and theory today. In my quest to provide alternative ways of reaching my students, I will explore the promise that math-learning centers provide. I will look at this from two perspectives, the impact on the learning process for the student and the impact on teaching style.

Several modes of learning are thought to enhance math centers: technology, games, manipulatives and literacy (Prensky 2001). I learned that math centers have a fundamental impact on students’ learning and have, to a great extent, enhanced my instruction. Math centers have become an almost daily part of my instruction. They have afforded me the ability to provide differentiated instruction on a more consistent basis.

My study has fostered an open dialogue between my math coach and other teachers. Together, we have sought approval from our administrator to have departmental grade level meetings instead of cross-curricular grade level meetings. This change is intended to cultivate shared ideas on how we are teaching subject matter and the centers we are using to implement them. I have observed the change in students’ attitudes when they know that centers are part of the day’s lesson and the impact on their participation. The questions I now have are how can math centers help students when it comes to solving word problems? What long-term effect would math centers have on a students’ understanding of math concepts if mandated in the teacher’s instruction?

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