Abstract/Details

Learning mathematics in central Appalachia: Life histories of beginning elementary teachers


2005 2005

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Life stories were constructed for three young women from Appalachia to explore their mathematics experiences as students in public schools of the region. Data sources included interviews, school records, and a self-drawn chart of estimated mathematics ability for each year, from kindergarten through twelfth grade. A cross-case analysis revealed similar characteristics among the three women including shyness, difficulty with middle school mathematics and with high school geometry, the choice not to take a mathematics course in the last year of high school, and an awareness of a negative Appalachian stereotype. The mathematics education received by all the women was inadequate as demonstrated by their self-created graphs, their life story accounts, and their initial difficulties in making the minimum required score on the Praxis I Mathematics test. Their subsequent successes in graduating from college can be attributed to their own motivation and tenacity in addition to the encouragement of their families and some teachers.

Connections to Standards-based reform in mathematics education include questions about the teaching and learning of geometry and about opportunities for students, especially females, to participate in mathematical discourse throughout their school mathematics experiences, a situation impacted by their expressed shyness and by overt and subtle incidences of gender and racial biases. Appalachian cultural connections seem to be an aspect of fatalism which influences attribution of natural ability versus effort and, in some instances, a climate of male dominance. Connections to the problems of education in rural poverty included a number of ineffective teachers, a situation exacerbated by a sense of social stratification within the Appalachian culture and a reluctance to challenge school or teacher practices. As for learning preferences, the women tended to favor teachers who offered good explanations and who demonstrated caring, which highlights an emphasis placed on relationships within the Appalachia culture.

Determining the degree of influence of the Appalachian culture on the education, especially in mathematics, of these three young women was difficult to ascertain. The factors of culture, socioeconomic levels, and rural isolation combined with the effects of race, gender and ethnicity in the individual to impact the opportunities to a quality education.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Mathematics education;
Minority & ethnic groups;
Sociology
Classification
0280: Mathematics education
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0631: Sociology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Education; Appalachia; Beginning teachers; Elementary teachers; Mathematics; Rural education
Title
Learning mathematics in central Appalachia: Life histories of beginning elementary teachers
Author
Watson, Donna Hardy
Number of pages
173
Publication year
2005
Degree date
2005
School code
0247
Source
DAI-A 67/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780542959264
Advisor
Magliaro, Susan; Wilkins, Jesse
University/institution
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
University location
United States -- Virginia
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3241182
ProQuest document ID
305418774
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/305418774
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.