Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Open Access Dissertation


Mathematics--Study and teaching (Elementary);


The purpose of this study was to explore mathematics instruction which implements reform-based problems within a traditionally taught classroom and its effect on struggling learners of mathematics. The reform-based problems implemented during the course of this study dealt with area and perimeter concepts at the fifth grade level. For this study, struggling learners of mathematics were defined as students scoring below the 40th percentile on the mathematics subtests of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The regular classroom teacher taught all lessons during the unit of instruction, while the researcher collected data from students using multiple methods: pretests and posttests, task-based interviews, standardized test scores, classroom observations, and pre and post attitude surveys.

Through the pretest and posttests given during the course of this study, the researcher found evidence which connects reading comprehension to mathematical understanding. Students identified as struggling learners of mathematics were more likely to accurately calculate area and perimeter when the dimensions were given as numerals rather than words. Results from this research study show an increase in the struggling learners' understanding of area and perimeter concepts when applied to problem-solving situations. The researcher conducted 10 observations of the fifth grade mathematics classroom. Through these observations, the researcher found the regular classroom teacher conducted mathematics instruction in a similar structure whether using the reform-based problems or a traditional lesson. The classroom teacher was deliberate in organizing each day's instructional time beginning with a review of basic mathematics skills, whole-class discussion of problems and tasks, and individual work or small group exploration. The structure of instructional time, aligned with clear and consistent student expectations gave struggling learners of mathematics opportunities to be successful in learning the concepts of area and perimeter.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Donna Schumacher Douglas, Committee Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Jean Suchsland Schneider, Committee Co-Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (xi, 210 pages)



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