AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Engagement of high school students with learning disabilities in mathematics learning

by Christina L Stohl

Institution: Northeastern University
Year: 2016
Keywords: constructivism; direct instruction; engagement; motivation; Socratic inquiry; student voice; Learning disabled youth; Education (Secondary); Mathematics; Mathematics; Study and teaching (Secondary); Direct instruction; Motivation in education; Questioning; Emotions and cognition
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2134436
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2047/D20209350


Current United States high school students report that they are frequently disengaged in the classroom. Although more prevalent in low socioeconomic communities, research indicates that privilege does not predispose a student to becoming a lifelong learner and a productive member of society. On a macro level engagement is relevant to businesses, because today's employers disclose that although young people achieve, they are often not engaged. This study used interpretative phenomenological analysis to answer the following research question: How do how school students with moderate learning disabilities describe their engagement and educational experience in learning math? Two theoretical frameworks were used to analyze this qualitative study: (1) Fredrickson's Broaden and Build Theory of Positive Emotions and (2) constructivism, as a theory of learning. As this study sought to understand students' emotional and cognitive engagement in learning math, data was collected through individual semi-structured interviews that included one Socratic lesson on linear equations. The findings indicated that high school students with moderate learning disabilities are engaged to learn math when they (1) understood how they learn given their learning differences; (2) created relationships with their teachers and engaged in explicit direct instruction; (3) increased their self-efficacy, emotional and cognitive engagement, and intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation; and (4) cognitively engaged with inquiry-constructivist learning when offered. This study added further understanding into how students, who learn differently, are more positively engaged when offered different pedagogical approaches such as the Socratic method and explicit direct instruction.