Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Iman Chahine, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nadia Behizadeh, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Christine Thomas, Ph.D.


In order for students to comprehend mathematics, they must be able to think and apply learned knowledge to inform skill acquisition (Schoenfeld, 2013). Written communication is a skill that enables students to prepare to learn mathematics and express thoughts. Using qualitative case study methodology within symbolic interactionism framework, this study examined the effect of concept journaling on the learning of seven students in one high school Coordinate Algebra classroom. The study further explored how these students perceived concept journaling as a tool for learning mathematics. Concept journaling is defined as a type of writing activity using prompts that incorporate graphs, charts, real-world situations, mathematical formulas, diagrams, images, symbolic text, or other appropriate resources for the student to reflect, communicate, and express mathematical ideas through writing.

The students were interviewed at the beginning and end of the research. After a lesson was taught a concept journaling activity was assigned and the students were observed while engaged in a writing activity. Data was triangulated and collected using four techniques: interviews, observations, concept journals, and researcher/teacher’s journal. Data analysis focused on comparing and contrasting themes that emerged through the detailed examination of the data. The following are emerging themes regarding student learning: through concept journaling (1) students learned by building associations of ideas utilizing their prior knowledge and experiences, (2) created a space for negotiating meaningful connections using multiple resources, and (3) provided opportunities for constructing meaning in context via peer communications and exchanges of personal views and ideas. The following are emerging themes regarding student perceptions: concept journaling was (4) seen as a meaningful experience to further their understanding of mathematics using real-world applications, (5) viewed by students as a medium to develop an awareness of the self while immersed in meaning making contexts, and (6) students expressed a sense of connection to mathematics through the use of concept journaling writing activities. Moreover, the findings highlighted a need for more focus on journaling in mathematics, longitudinal studies on writing in mathematics, and the students’ voices appearing in future literature.