Date of Award

5-2013

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

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Corey Webel

Committee Member

David Keiser

Committee Member

Jeremy Price

Subject(s)

Mathematics--Study and teaching--United States, Social justice--Study and teaching--United States

Abstract

This practitioner action research using qualitative techniques of gathering data looks at the experiences of students in a mostly white, upper-middle class suburb who enrolled in a class that integrated mathematics with social justice issues. The researcher designed the curriculum and co-taught the one semester course. The data were collected from pre-interviews, beginning and end of class questionnaires, quick writes, field notes, and end of class focus group interviews with all the students. The author chose a practitioner action research design because he wanted to be an integral part of the study. The cyclical nature of action research allowed him to grow and learn by planning, acting, observing, and reflecting on his work.

The researcher uncovered and identified four categories that the students experienced as they progressed through the class. These categories are: Awareness, Struggle, Realization, and Growth. In the awareness category, the students’ sheltered upbringing is interrupted and their eyes are opened as they gain a new understanding of their worlds. As the students’ comfort zones are disrupted, many struggle with a number of the issues discussed in the class. In the realization category, the students take their newfound knowledge and internalize it, allowing them to realize things about mathematics, minorities, and their worlds. In the final category of experience, the author discusses the students and his own growth.

The study describes the experiences of students who participated in my mathematics for social justice class taught in an economically privileged school setting. The researcher explores how the students’ experiences impacted them and addresses the following questions: Did their experience raise their level of social awareness? Did participating in the study influence the students to become agents of change for social justice? Were the students able to recognize their privilege and the cultural capital they possess?

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