Title page for ETD etd-08122003-170407

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cauthen, Sandra Dalton
Author's Email Address cauthen@i-plus.net
URN etd-08122003-170407
Title Documenting Systemic Reform in Mathematics: A Case Study of One Middle School
Degree PhD
Department Curriculum and Instruction Mathematics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kelly, Patricia Proudfoot Committee Co-Chair
Underhill, Robert G. Committee Co-Chair
Burton, John K. Committee Member
Magliaro, Susan G. Committee Member
Spaulding, Raymond Committee Member
  • middle school mathematics teaching
  • constructivist mathematics
  • qualitative research
  • longitudinal case study
  • systemic refrom
  • lead teachers
Date of Defense 2003-06-24
Availability unrestricted
Abstract Sandra Dalton Cauthen An operational definition of Systemic Reform is used to document a case study of mathematics education reforms occurring in the mathematics classrooms of one middle school in one school division in one state. The middle school had two lead teachers who participated in the training component of a National Science Foundation-funded state-wide Systemic Reform Initiative.

Systemic Reform conceptualized reform as combining bottom-up reform with top-down support. Therefore, the research methodology confronted the challenges of the breadth and complexity of Systemic Reform through the use of selective data in the form of artifacts, interviews, and observations from four populations: (1) classroom teachers, (2) building administrators, (3) district administrators, and (4) state-level staff.

The study was conducted at four levels over a five-year period to provide the focus for longitudinal data collection to document: (1) the status of mathematics education during the 1995-96 primary data collection year, (2) the evolution of mathematics education reform over the course of the five year period, and (3) the manner in which Systemic Reform occurred.

All levels of educators involved made an initial five-year commitment as active participants in the State's Systemic Reform Initiative, but only the Lead Teacher actually carried through with this commitment. After the first year division-level administrators shifted the focus of reform efforts to the elementary schools and discontinued support for the middle schools; after the second year both the division and state-level administrators withdrew all support. Although changes were made at the school level which supported reform in mathematics education (i.e., adoption of constructivist-type instructional materials, purchase of classroom sets of manipulatives and calculators, implementation of block scheduling, and the organization of teachers in interdisciplinary teams) the necessary changes in technology, curriculum and assessment were not in place to support the reform efforts. Through the perseverance of the Lead Teacher some changes in mathematics classrooms were documented, but the lack of consistent administrative leadership/support and emphasis on multiple reforms ended in the all to common bandwagon phenomena at the building, division and state levels so characteristic of change efforts in schools.

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