Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

David A. Hernandez

Abstract

This qualitative study addressed the perceptions toward the study of mathematics by middle school students who had formerly been in a remedial mathematics program. The purpose of the study was to explore the past experiences of nine students in order to determine what is needed for them to feel successful in mathematics. The conceptual framework of the study was grounded in philosophies of motivation, including achievement goal theory, self-worth theory, self-efficacy theory, expectancy-value theory, and attribution theory. The study used a phenomenological research design to answer the key research question, which focused upon the experiences of students and the meaning that was given to these experiences. Data were collected and analyzed from individual interviews with 9 students and a focus group session. The findings of the study revealed that participants' past experiences influenced their current attitudes about the study of mathematics. Perceptions of mathematical ability, history of success or failure with grades, and the influence of the teacher and peers in the learning environment most influenced students' attitudes about mathematics. Moreover, current feelings impact the degree to which a student puts forth effort in the study of mathematics, and the relationship with the mathematics teacher had the greatest impact on student attitudes. To improve the perceptions that students have about the study of mathematics, expanded professional development opportunities may bring increased awareness of students' perceptions of the study of mathematics, and develop remedial mathematics programs that remove the negative stigma associated with them. The research study could lead to social change as its purpose is to improve student achievement in mathematics through changes in the remedial mathematics program.