Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Timothy Lafferty


Student test scores related to mathematical word problems have been declining in a rural school district in western Louisiana. Word problems constitute a major component of the Algebra 1 End of Course examination, which students must be able to pass to graduate. Mathematics teachers have struggled to find appropriate strategies to teach students to answer constructed response questions (CRQs) effectively. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of math teachers about effective teaching strategies for improving student performance on CRQs. Guided by Piaget's constructivist theory, which is characterized by an emphasis on learner control of the learning process through active engagement and activation of prior knowledge, this study investigated teachers' perceptions and practices in relation to teaching the skills needed for CRQs. The research questions focused on math teachers' perceptions of current teaching practices, instructional effectiveness, and professional development needs. A case study design was used to capture the insights of 8 participants through semistructured interviews and observations. Emergent themes were identified from the data through a code-recode approach, and findings were developed and validated through triangulation and member checking. The key results were that math teachers expressed a need to collaborate with their colleagues to develop effective strategies that would incorporate literacy and hands-on learning. A project was designed to engage teachers in collaboration and planning to prepare students to think critically and problem solve. This study may promote positive social change by providing teachers with the tools necessary to improve students' thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and learning strategies.

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