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Date of Award
Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences
The purpose of this research was to address how culturally informed ethnomathematical methods of teaching can be utilized to support the learning of Navajo students in mathematics. The study was conducted over the course of four years on the Navajo Reservations at Tohatchi Middle School in Tohatchi New Mexico. The students involved in the study were all in 8th grade and were enrolled either in Algebra 1 or a Response to Intervention, RTI, class. The data collected came in the form of a student survey, student observation and student assessment. The teacher written survey, a math textbook word problem, and two original math textbook problems along with their rewritten version were the sources of these three studies. The first year of the study consisted of a math attitude survey and how Navajo students perceived math as a subject of interest. The students answered four questions pertaining to their thoughts about mathematics. The students’ responses were positive according to their written answers. The second year of the study involved the observation of how students worked through a math word problem as a group. This method tested how the students culturally interacted in order to solve a math problem. Their questions and reasoning to solve the problem were shared with peers and the teacher. The teacher supported the students in understanding and solving the problem by asking questions that kept the students focused on the goal of solving the problem. The students worked collaboratively and openly in order to complete the activity. During the iv study, the teacher was more able to notice the students’ deficiencies individually or as a group, therefore was able to support them in a more specific manner. The last study was conducted over a period of two different years. This study was used to determine how textbook bias in the form of its sentence structure or word choice affects the performance of students who are not culturally familiar with one or both. It was found that the students performed better and took less time on the rewritten problem than on the original problem. The data suggests that focusing on the culture, language and education of Navajo students can affect how the students learn and understand math.
Hunter, Tracy L., "SUPPORTING LEARNING FOR NAVAJO STUDENTS THROUGH ETHNOMATHEMATICS", Master's report, Michigan Technological University, 2013.