Date of Award

Spring 1990

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Mathematics, Engineering & Computer Science

First Advisor

Marie Vanisko

Second Advisor

John Scharf

Third Advisor

John Downs

Abstract

“How can students compete in a mathematical society when they leave school knowing so little mathematics?” This quote is taken from Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future of Mathematics Education, and sums up the current concerns of many mathematics educators. The past decade has been filled with disturbing reports, including An Agenda for Action. A Nation at Risk, and Everybody Counts, that deal with the status of the American educational system. In addition to learning that Johnny cannot read, we learned that Johnny also cannot add or subtract. Throughout American high schools, student achievement in mathematics has fallen dramatically. Nowhere is this more clear, perhaps, than in the high school geometry classroom. Many people would argue that geometry, as it is taught has become the downfall of a wide majority of young students. Typically consisting of a year filled with ‘proofs’, geometry sometimes succeeds not in teaching students to think logically, but in teaching students to dislike mathematics. Rather than learning to create and construct solutions, students often resort to simply memorizing solutions, in order to successfully complete the course. If we as educators ever hope to improve the status of mathematics education in American high schools, we must eradicate the habit of memorizing information just to “get through the 1 course.” Memorization is not learning; until students start learning (and start wanting to learn), achievement in high school geometry will never improve. I support the theory that the method of teaching high school geometry, currently a teacher-oriented, proof-based method, be altered to include student-oriented, hands-on learning activities. In this thesis, I will explore the research supporting hands-on learning and present ways to implement hands-on activities into the curriculum.

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