Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Heather Miller

Abstract

Math anxiety, defined as feelings of apprehension and fear of courses involving mathematics, often interferes with student learning in a variety of college-level courses. A related phenomenon, statistics anxiety, affects the performance of many students in statistics courses. Researchers have found evidence that including collaborative problem solving as an instructional methodology is effective at reducing the negative effects of statistics anxiety. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore adult perceptions of collaborative problem solving as an instructional methodology focused on improving the learning environment in a business statistics course. Behaviorist, constructivist, and adult learning theories provided the foundation for this study that gathered narrative interview data from 14 adult students. The narratives were analyzed by first coding responses to questions into 7 frames of reference. Further refining of the data was accomplished by grouping responses in each frame of reference into common realms of response. Findings indicated that the adult participants perceived collaboration to be effective at reducing stress levels and improving course performance. Additionally, the participants identified weekly learning tasks, collaborative partner selection methods, and student resource materials that could benefit from redesigning. The project that stemmed from this research involved restructuring the instructional methodologies, learning tasks, and student resources to better align with adult learning preferences identified by the participants. The benefits to positive social change resulting from this project study included improving the course learning environment for adults and identifying adult preferences for implementing collaboration as a learning methodology.