Date of Award

2007

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Teaching

Advisor

John E. Donovan II

Second Committee Member

Eric A. Pandiscio

Third Committee Member

Michael C. Wittmann

Abstract

This study compared students’ epistemological beliefs of mathematics after completing 3 years of a reform-oriented curriculum developed by the Core-Plus Mathematics Project (CPMP) versus a more traditional curriculum developed by Glencoe Mathematics. The Conceptions of Mathematics Inventory (CMI; Grouws, Howald, & Colangelo, 1996) was administered to 11th-grade students in four rural Maine high schools (n=102) to measure student beliefs of mathematics. CPMP was used as the primary textbook series in 2 of the schools, while the other 2 schools used Glencoe Mathematics. A variation of the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol (RTOP; Piburn & Sawada, 2000) and teacher questionnaires were used to characterize the level of reform-oriented instruction occurring in each of the schools. The results indicated that the students who were taught using the traditional curriculum combined with reform-oriented teaching practices expressed the most positive beliefs of mathematics, while the students who were taught using the reform-oriented curriculum expressed less healthy beliefs of mathematics, especially when taught using reform-oriented teaching practices. Some of the differences in beliefs appeared to be gender-related. This study extends the previous research of Grouws et al. (1996), Walker (1999), and Star and Hoffmann (2005) by demonstrating the feasibility of using instruments such as the CMI to assess students’ epistemological beliefs of mathematics in order to expand the notion of impact of reform-oriented curricula beyond students’ performance on achievement tests. This study also illustrates the importance of determining what is actually happening in the classrooms when performing such research.

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