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ERIC Number: ED554420
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 262
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3032-0413-5
Dismantling the Birdcage: Adolescent Girls' Attitudes towards Learning Mathematics with a Relational Pedagogy in a Problem-Based Environment
Schettino, Carmel
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of New York at Albany
Although the Gender Achievement Gap is closing in mathematics, the "interest gap" in pursuing STEM fields is not. Mathematics education research has discussed constructivist, student-centered and inclusive methods of teaching that have been found to encourage students that have underachieved and been underrepresented in STEM fields. One recommendation for encouraging young women to continue in their mathematical studies is to find instructional methods that allow them to feel included in the learning process and "unfix" the dichotomous, gendered socio-cultural view of mathematics and the mathematics classroom fostering positive attitudes such as self-confidence, empowerment and agency. In this study, the journeys of five adolescent girls currently studying secondary mathematics were explored. These girls were identified to be learning in classrooms led with a pedagogical approach that I am calling Relational Problem-Based Learning (RPBL) which seeks to encourage such attitudes. I chose to explore the relationship between the pedagogical approach and the girls' attitudes of value in the subject of mathematics, enjoyment of study, self-confidence in their ability in mathematics and their own senses of empowerment and agency in the classroom. Their experiences in this relational, discourse-driven world of mathematics were often compared to their past experiences in more traditional, direct instruction classrooms and shared through multiple narrative methods. This study found that although each girl's journey was quite individual to their own interests and past experiences, the RPBL classroom made an extremely positive impact on her attitudes towards herself as a mathematics student. Specifically, in every case each girl's feeling of self-confidence in and enjoyment of studying mathematics, as well as their senses of empowerment and agency in the classroom were described as positively impacted by the RPBL pedagogy. Although the value of the material taught was not as impacted, they did see the value in the "soft skills" that came with mathematical problem solving skills and the discourse and communication skills that came along with the RPBL method giving further credence to this instructional approach and making mathematics class even more meaningful in more contexts. A theoretical framework for the RPBL Classroom is described in order to support the mathematics classroom that may positively impact a whole population of students in our country that are not getting their needs met in their learning of mathematics. Research shows this population is not just young women and if we want to create true equity in STEM fields we must listen to that call for change before too many of them are left behind. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A