Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Dr. Jerita Whaley

Abstract

Students' critical thinking in mathematics was a concern for grade 5 through 8 teachers at a Title 1 public school in the northeastern United States because of the students' poor performance on constructed response questions on the state's mathematics exam. In this exam, students were required to justify their answers in writing. When teachers recognize the connection between writing and critical thinking, they can devise strategies to help students develop mathematical literacy. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore how 5th through 8th grade mathematics teachers use the GoMath mathematics literacy program to teach the critical thinking skills students need to justify an answer in writing. The conceptual framework of critical thinking theory drove this study examining critical thinking pedagogy in general and special education mathematics classrooms. Qualitative data were collected from pre- and post-observation interviews and classroom observations from 4 purposefully selected mathematics teachers in grades 5 through 8 who taught GoMath. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Teachers reported that oral communication among students before writing justifications and students' critical thinking skills were integral components in solving mathematics problems. Based on the findings, it is recommended that ongoing professional development be adopted to assist teachers in developing strategies for teaching critical thinking skills to help students justify answers in writing when solving mathematics problems. This endeavor may contribute to positive social change by providing teachers with the necessary skills and strategies to enhance students' communication and critical thinking, thus, increasing their academic performance in mathematics.