Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Dan Rea

Committee Member 1

Grigory Dmitriyev

Committee Member 2

Jonathan Hilpert

Committee Member 3

Sharon Taylor

Committee Member 3 Email



Middle-grade students who fail math have at least a three-in-four chance of dropping out of high school (Neild & Balfanz, 2006). Furthermore, these students, especially female students, at risk of failure in mathematics and consequent dropout, may not be well served by traditional teaching methods because of their inequitable instructional practices (Lerner & Sadker, 1999). This case study of eight seventh-grade students from a rural school in Georgia sought to gain insight into whether PBL (problem-based learning) was perceived to be an effective teaching method for “at-risk” middle-school mathematics students and female students in particular. The goals of the study were to investigate and identify the thematic perceptions of “at-risk” seventh-grade students after their experience with PBL and determine gender influences on their perceptions. The results of the study revealed that PBL effectively met the perceived learning and motivational needs of the “at-risk” students and provided an equitable method of teaching for both the female and male students but for different reasons. Educational recommendations are provided to enhance further the implementation of PBL for “at-risk” mathematics students, especially female students.

Research Data and Supplementary Material