Term of Award

Winter 2003

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Gregory Chamblee

Committee Member 2

Sharon Taylor

Committee Member 3

John Weaver

Abstract

The primary focus of this study was to explore the effects of affective factors on female achievement in mathematics in a rural South Georgia middle school. This particular study evolved from a quantitative pilot study that caused me to begin thinking about the attitudes and beliefs of my students. The affective factors addressed include attitude toward success, math as a male domain, influence of significant adult, confidence, math anxiety, motivation, and usefulness. These same factors were the foundation of the 1976 Fennema-Sherrnan attitudinal scales. Historically, most of the research on female achievement in mathematics has been quantitative in nature. Based upon the findings of these quantitative studies, I developed an in-depth understanding of the phenomena by engaging in a qualitative inquiry. The theoretical framework of this study was hermeneutic phenomenology which focused on the experiences and interpretation of the experiences of a group of females that had been successful in mathematics.

Data collection methods included a school portraiture, student profiles, individual and group interviews, a student journal exchange, and a teacher-researcher reflective researcher journal. Six high achieving seventh-grade female math students that I worked with in the past were interviewed. The interviews were taped, transcribed, and categorized in order to compare the responses of the different girls. The types of student responses determined the categories.

Over the course of several months, I exchanged journals with the participants. I provided the participants with a series of writing prompts that gave them opportunities to discuss their opinions and emotions about mathematics. I reviewed and analyzed their journals for patterns and concurrent themes relevant to my research.

The final data collection method I used was a teacher-researcher reflective journal. I recorded observations that I made as well as information from conversations that I had with the participants. The journal entries provided a starting place for my data analysis and initiated my questioning about personal beliefs and assumptions.

Through this study, I explored the affective factors that impact most critically on the female mathematical achievement in a rural setting. I also have begun to create ways to eliminate prejudices that affect females' mathematics achievement. I hope to create a math curriculum that all students would find interesting and appealing.

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