Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Maria L. Fernández

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Tonette Rocco

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Mido Chang

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Maria Lovett

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


subjectivist instructional strategies, algebra, mathematics, attitude, achievement, challenges, eighth grade

Date of Defense



In Guyana, South America, the Ministry of Education seeks to provide universal, inclusive education that prepares its citizens to take their productive places in society and to creatively solve complex, real-world problems. However, with frequent national assessments that are used to place students in high school, college or into jobs, teachers resort to using familiar strategies such as lecture, recitation and test drilling. Despite their efforts, over 56% of students are failing the Grade 6 assessments, 43% failing 10th grade Mathematics and over 60% failing college algebra courses. Such performance has been linked to students’ lower academic self-concept and their negative attitudes toward mathematics aggravated by an autocratic culture that continues to view the teacher as sole authority.

Subjectivist instructional strategies integrate constructivism and affect by providing a learning experience that gives children more autonomy as they solve contextually relevant algebraic problems. In a quasi-experimental study involving a treatment and control group of eighth grade students at a high school in Guyana, a modified version of the Mathematics Value Inventory was used to measure students’ attitudes towards mathematics before and after the 10-week treatment. Scores on the final examination were used to determine achievement in algebra.

Forty seven students in the treatment group were guided in exploring and discovering concepts for themselves. Formal definitions were delayed until after the students experimented with relatable scenarios. Forty two students in the control group were taught using multiple opportunities to practice. Analysis was done using General Linear Models to determine the variance in achievement and attitude scores accounted for by the instructional strategies while controlling for sex, challenge index, and, pretreatment scores for attitude and achievement. The challenge index was developed to identify outside influences on students’ performance such as: travel time; whether living at home; number in household; sleepiness; noisiness; and, resource availability.

Results were not all as expected but some interesting relationships surfaced between the challenges, attitudes towards mathematics and achievement scores. Ultimately it was determined that the environment in which students had to study and the challenges they faced outweighed the small gains in attitude changes for the treatment group.




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