Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Sarah Hough


Students' lack of participation in higher-level mathematics courses is a pressing concern. In a small rural district in Alaska, many high school students elect to opt out of taking higher-level mathematics once the minimum requirement is reached. According to Bandura's self-efficacy construct, a learners' motivation is influenced by their self-beliefs and affect towards learning. Moreover, research on student learning experiences in mathematics suggests a gender difference, with girls preferring that less abstract conceptual knowledge be taught through hands-on activities. As mathematics instruction is traditionally taught through lecture and demonstration, both of which are preferences of the assimilator learning style, this study explored the role of learning styles in the lack of participation (particularly amongst girls) in higher-level mathematics. A mixed methods sequential explanatory design was used to explore the relationships among students' learning styles, participation in higher-level mathematics, and gender through a self-efficacy framework. Archival survey data were obtained for all high school students in the district (n = 63) and interviews were conducted with a subsample of students (n = 8) who volunteered to participate. Chi square analyses were performed on survey data to test for relationships between participation in higher-level mathematics, gender, and learning style. No significant relationships were found. Findings from the analysis of interview data indicated that students who opted not to take higher-level math had little knowledge of the importance of math as it relates to potential college and career options. A series of guidance lessons aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of math for future learning and potential career fields was created. This project study will promote social change by improving student awareness of, and achievement in, mathematics-related careers.