Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

8-2009

Type of Culminating Activity

Thesis

Degree Title

Master of Science in Mathematics Education

Department

Mathematics

Major Advisor

Dr. Sharon Whalen

Abstract

Journaling is an effective tool for writing about mathematics, but research is mixed about the extent to its effectiveness in writing to learn mathematics. This study examined the performance effects of concept booklets on curriculum assessments. Concept booklets are a hybrid style of journal-writing that include responses to journal prompts, diagramming, and traditional note-taking. Prompts were designed to sometimes investigate new concepts and, at other times, to reflect on components of previously learned concepts.

The study, of an experimental design, was carried out at the high school level in honors-level mathematics classes with the independent variable being exposure to the booklets. A unit examination consisting of two parts, the first being traditional curriculum assessment items and the second being composed of nontraditional open-ended problems, was given to both groups. Exam results were analyzed to determine any statistically significant difference between the groups’ performances. Separate analyses of test results were done for sophomores and juniors. Additionally, six examination items were analyzed based on whether an accurate diagram was drawn for the problem. This analysis was performed for the control group, the treatment group, and for the pool of all students in the study.

Results showed significantly better performance by the sophomore subgroup on the entire test as well as both parts. The junior subgroup’s performance reached statistical significance on only the second, open-ended part of the examination. Analysis of diagramming showed significantly better performance on the open-ended questions by students who had provided an accurate diagram of the problem. Potential differences in age between grade levels may have contributed to different results for sophomores and juniors.

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