Date of Graduation

2003

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

In its Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics called for a new vision of what is means to be mathematically literate (NCTM, 2000). A major goal of this reform movement has been to provide students with opportunities to develop “mathematical habits of the mind”—to not only know the signs, symbols, and terms of mathematics, but to read, write, and discuss mathematics. This study investigated the relationship between instructional strategies and student understanding in mathematics. Specifically, the study explored whether student discourse is a desirable prerequisite of journal writing, and whether the combination of journal writing and discourse were effective instructional strategies to improve student achievement in mathematics when compared to journal writing and traditional mathematics instruction. The sample consisted of 39 fifth grade students who were part of a total population of 79 students in three intact classrooms. All students received traditional mathematics instruction that differed only in the inclusion of writing or writing and discourse twice a week. Achievement was measured one three comprehensive cumulative tests (Pre, Post, and Delayed) and two fraction theory tests (Chapter 7 Pre and Post) and two fraction operations tests (Chapter 8 Pre and Post). The Delayed Cumulative Test was administered three weeks after the Post Chapter 8 Test to measure retention. Four hypotheses concerning the relationship between journal writing and discourse and student achievement were tested. An analysis of variance was used to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. The results were tested for statistical significance using the .05 alpha level. The analysis revealed significant differences in Group by Testing Occasion interaction for total achievement on the Post and Delayed Cumulative Tests. Data did not reveal significant differences in Group by Testing Occasion interaction for conceptual understanding and problem solving. As predicted, there was not an interaction of Group by Testing Occasion for computational skills.

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