This report describes a program for increasing adolescent visualization and understanding of geometry problems. The targeted population consisted of high school students in two geometry classes in a growing middle-class community. The inability of students to adequately visualize and understand geometry problems was documented through teacher-made tests and quizzes, student journals, and teacher journals. Analysis of probable cause data revealed poor performance on middle school geometry problems, lack of motivation to do the work, teacher observation of student inability to visualize the spatial situation, and parent comments substantiating the student stress level of not seeing the problem. After a review of the current geometry curriculum, it was discovered that an over-emphasis was placed on memorization and information giving, and there was a lack of hands-on instruction with the use of manipulatives to develop the visual skills. A review of solution strategies suggested by experts in the field of mathematics combined with an analysis of the problem setting resulted in these interventions. Materials that support visual focusing were created for hands-on use by students. An increase in student involvement and cooperative learning were used to foster understanding and thinking skills. Project results found that based on the presentation and analysis of the data on hands-on cooperative learning, students showed a more positive attitude towards math and a desire to work with partners or in cooperative groups. Students also indicated a preference for using hands-on learning and the use of manipulatives rather than using traditional learning methods. Test scores showed improved grades when students worked with a partner or in a group; however there was no marked difference in scores when students worked alone. Contains 19 references. (Author/NB)
Master's Program Action Research Project, St. Xavier University and IRI/Skylight.