Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Bush, William S.

Author's Keywords

Mathematics; Middle school; Single-sex education; Boys; School reform


Middle school education--Curricula--United States; Single-sex schools


A comparative case study focused on six mathematics teachers of all-boy classes in three middle schools. Each school chose to experiment with gendered classes to improve specific, yet somewhat different, outcomes. A purpose of this study was not to compare single-gender schooling with coeducation, but rather, to focus on each school's implementation process and to identify school and classroom factors that seemed to contribute to success of the single-gender program. Another purpose was to examine mathematics teaching. Observational analysis used as a framework the Five Strands of Mathematics Proficiency. Related areas of inquiry were classroom time allocation, textbook selection and use, and mathematics beliefs. Results indicated many differences in the nature of the mathematics teaching for the six teachers of the study. Additionally, teacher use of a non-traditional textbook did not relate to non- traditional teacher practices. Overall findings suggested one school to be more successful than the other two in implementing a single-gender program and in using the all-boy mathematics classes to improve student outcomes. Four school-level phenomena that seemed particularly important were as follows: the faculty "bought-in" to the belief that a single-gender program could improve learning for their students; teacher retention was high; teachers possessed a high sense of collective teacher efficacy; and the principal served effectively as an instructional leader. Additionally, the teacher participants at this school most frequently implemented strategies for boys and exhibited the most characteristics of teaching for mathematics proficiency. In teaching all-boy mathematics classes, classroom management was a first priority. Secondly, teachers of the study found they could engage and motivate boys by using teaching strategies that work for boys and by building relationships with their students. Strategies identified in this study as being successful with boys included games and competition; drama and jokes; the scaffolding of lessons and tasks; and assistance in developing organizational skills. Once, classroom management structures were operational and boys were engaged, teachers reported that boys sustained their engagement in mathematics activities and problems. Thirty-one middle school boys were interviewed, and all reported that they enjoyed mathematics and perceived it as useful for current and future pursuits.