Date of Award

7-2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Mathematics

First Advisor

Dr. George Feissner

Second Advisor

Dr. Bruce Mattingly

Third Advisor

Dr. Carol J. Bell

Abstract

In their Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics presents a vision for mathematics. This vision includes “ambitious expectations for all, with accommodation for those who need it. Knowledgeable teachers have adequate resources to support their work and are continually growing as professionals.” (Principles and Standards for School Mathematics Appendix 2000). Mathematically rich curricula is part of this vision. Students who value Mathematics and are actively engaged learners of mathematics are also part of this vision. This research will focus on curricula, and also student interest and appreciation of mathematics. Successful curricula include a desire to convey mathematics as a personally satisfying and empowering life-tool. As master teachers, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create mathematics in the classroom that focuses on developing a life-long appreciation and interest for the subject. We also have the obligation to help students fulfill their New York State graduation requirements in mathematics (NYSUT.org/standards/students_graduation.html). The master teacher incorporates both of these into classroom practices that work together to achieve rich, successful curricula.

Secondary school students face many challenges that develop each student individually. Students should view each of their four years of high school as an opportunity to develop and strengthen their mathematical skills 6 and ability. Upper-level courses can and should further develop mathematical understanding and mastery as students apply them to the real world. For instance, the use of exponential functions to model exponential growth in microbiology labs and pharmaceutical research, or linear, quadratic, cubic functions (and the use of technology to find these functions) and rates of change to model the physics found in an amusement park (acceleration, velocity, slope, and pendulum motion) are various examples of applying student understanding and mastery of mathematics.

It was believed that WPHS students lacked interest in and appreciation for mathematics as a life-long skill. The WPHS Mathematics Department also believed that the lack of variety of upper-level mathematics courses being offered hindered its ability to meet student needs. Finally, it was found that the current Math 12 curriculum did not properly prepare students for AP Calculus. This research project is devoted to researching student needs, interests, and level of appreciation for mathematics. It further includes developing curriculum for both current courses and possible new courses, and incorporating NCTM Principles and Standards, and New York State Standards for mathematics so that this vision can be achieved. This research project has assisted Whitney Point High School (WPHS) Mathematics Department in moving closer to reaching this vision.

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