Date of Award

2-6-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Christine Thomas - Chair

Second Advisor

Draga Vidakovic

Third Advisor

Steve Harmon

Fourth Advisor

Joel Meyers

Abstract

Despite agreement among researchers about the powerful influence of attitudes and beliefs on the development of students’ mathematical knowledge base (Leder, Pehkonen, & Törner, 2002), relatively little is known about these constructs in statistics education. This study investigated the relationship between mathematics-and statistics-related attitudes and beliefs of 11 high school students in an introductory statistics course designed around a 13-week long service-learning project. Service-learning is a pedagogical approach that situates academic learning in the context of community service. The study utilized qualitative, teacher-researcher (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993) methodology from an interpretivist perspective. The three primary modes of data collection were journals, narratives, and an open-ended survey (Survey of Mathematical and Statistical Affect). Observations and reflections were also recorded regularly in a researcher journal. Inquiry adhered to guidelines for trustworthiness and rigor as outlined by Lincoln and Guba (1985). Item, pattern, and structural levels of analysis were employed (LeCompte and Schensul, 1999b). Investigation into attitudes and beliefs was framed in accordance with Op t’ Eynde, De Corte, and Verschaffel’s (2002) conceptualization of the mathematics-related belief system and McLeod’s (1992) framework of the affective domain in mathematics education. Results indicate that participants’ attitudes toward mathematics and statistics tended to converge while participants’ beliefs regarding mathematics and statistics tended to diverge. Participants like mathematics and statistics that involve real-life scenarios. Participants also like mathematics and statistics that do not require complex mathematical tasks. Participants’ beliefs regarding statistics were generally more positive than beliefs regarding mathematics. Participants reported greater confidence doing statistics than mathematics and contribute this confidence, in part, to service-learning. Participants also experienced a heightened sense of social awareness and social responsibility through the service-learning project. These results provide evidence that service-learning can be utilized to solidify positive attitudes and beliefs regarding statistics among high school students, in spite of potentially less positive ones toward mathematics.

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