Dissertations, Theses and Capstone Projects

Date of Award

Summer 2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)

Department

Teacher Leadership for Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Garner

Second Advisor

Dr. Wendy Sanchez

Third Advisor

Dr. Alice Terry

Abstract

Secondary mathematics educators advocating constructivist-oriented instruction face the dilemma of developing students’ problem-solving skills. Students’ epistemological beliefs and self-regulated learning (SRL) processing capacity influence mathematical problem-solving prowess. This multiple-case study explored the relationships between epistemological beliefs and SRL processing while advanced mathematics students engaged in problem-solving tasks and investigated students’ SRL strategy use, heuristic strategy use, and problem-solving performance. Data sources included think-aloud and interview transcriptions, student work, and classroom observation protocols. Validity and reliability were enhanced via member-checking interviews, triangulation, peer review, and completion of a case study database. Five major findings emerged from the data: (1) participants’ unique/arbitrary beliefs regarding problem solutions, procedural/conceptual beliefs in problem solving, and empirical/rational beliefs in problem solving were related to various facets of SRL processing; (2) differences in SRL strategy use were noted dependent upon cognitive load of problem-solving tasks; (3) heuristic strategy use was related to participants’ mathematical problem-solving beliefs; (4) problem-solving performance was related to participants’ mathematical problem-solving beliefs; (5) discrepancies were noted between espoused beliefs and manifested beliefs among participants with non-availing beliefs. Recommendations for practicing mathematics educators include the assessment and development of students’ mathematical epistemological beliefs and SRL processing capacity, differentiation of cognitive load for tasks based on assessments of students’ cognitive capacity, and professional development training for teachers. Further research is needed which involves students of various achievement levels and extends methodologies to grounded theory or structural equation modeling. Additionally, a request is made for more research from classroom teachers.