Date of Award

1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Mathematical Sciences

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Mika Munakata

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Eileen Fernandez

Subject(s)

Mathematics--Study and teaching (Higher)--Case studies, Adult learning--Case studies, Learning disabled--Education (Higher)--Case studies

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to understand how mathematics is taught at a small, liberal arts college that self-advertised as accommodating diverse learners. A qualitative case study was conducted on the mathematics program at Waterview College. Waterview College is unique in that almost half of their students self-identify with a disability, including learning disabilities (LD). The number of students with learning disabilities that attend college is increasing; therefore it is important for mathematics instructors to understand and accommodate diverse learners. The data for this research were collected using one-on-one instructor interviews, classroom observations, and student focus group interviews. The data were analyzed using the constant-comparative method of analysis. The findings indicate that mathematics is taught by instructors who have passion for their students and want them to succeed. The instructors are all parttime employees who devote much of their own time to helping students outside of the classroom structure. The instructors teach their classes so all students have access to mathematics; it isn’t necessary for LD students to self-identify with disability services. However, the classroom demeanor and tone of one instructor negatively affected his students. Additionally, students expressed concern about the relevancy of their coursework. They want to learn math that is useful for their future careers and that will help them succeed in their personal and professional lives. Mathematics Learning Disabilities and adults with LD are areas in need of more research. Mathematics faculty teaching at post-secondary institutions should be familiar with the characteristics of LD and consider accommodations that ensure all learners succeed.

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