Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education



Committee Chair

Dr. David Glassmeyer

First Committee Member

Dr. Nita Paris

Second Committee Member

Dr. Michael Dias


For years, traditional mathematics instruction has prioritized memory over thought; this often leads to a disconnect between mathematics and real life, which is a contributing factor for the increased rate of college students having to take remedial mathematics. Experiential Learning (EL) seeks to influence students’ decisions to transfer what they are learning to the classroom by engaging students’ emotional processes through concrete experiences. EL has been successful over the years in increasing student engagement and conceptual understanding; however, more research is needed to examine the effect of EL with secondary mathematics students. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of EL on students’ conceptual understanding of linear and exponential functions using a quasi-experimental 2x2 repeated measures design. Quantitative data was collected through pretest and posttest instruments, while anecdotal data was collected through classroom observations. Participating in the study were eighty-one students in two groups; the control group participated in traditional mathematics instruction, and the experimental group participated in EL. Results from the quantitative data F(1,79) = 9.55, p = .003indicated students in the experimental group demonstrated growth in their conceptual understanding of functions more than students in the control group. When compared to Traditional Mathematics Instruction (TMI), implementing EL strategies did not negatively impact scores of students in the experimental group, as they were able to perform as well or better than students in the control group, albeit not always at a statistically significant level. Implications from this study include: EL is just as effective as TMI in the mathematics classroom, students in classrooms where EL is used are more engaged with the concept than students in a TMI classroom, and providing professional development for high school mathematics teachers may generate positive results in the classroom.