First Advisor

Dannelle D. Stevens

Date of Publication

Winter 3-3-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Mathematics -- Study and teaching (Secondary) -- United States, Academic achievement



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 146 pages)


In the United States students have traditionally struggled with mathematics. Many students leave the educational system with limited mathematical literacy that can adversely affect their success as a college student, a consumer and citizen. In turn, lack of mathematical literacy affects their socioeconomic status. Through improving their mathematical literacy, students can be more successful not only in mathematics but, it seems in many aspects of their lives. Many researchers have defined mathematical literacy; yet, we need to understand more about how mathematical literacy develops. This study explores a model that identifies four key components that seem to be associated with the development and sustainability of mathematical literacy. When mathematical capital is viewed through the theoretical frame of reciprocal determinism, the nonlinear effects may contribute to the development of mathematical capital leading to a solid foundation for mathematical literacy. The purpose of this study was to describe and explain in what ways successful mathematics high school student attributes, abilities and experiences contribute to the development of mathematical capital that seems to be a foundation for mathematical literacy. The participants were a representative sample of seven diverse freshman high school students from an urban high school in the Pacific Northwest United States who are successful in mathematics as determined by grades in first term freshman mathematics courses and standardized test scores. Data collected included a survey, an achievement test, and interviews. Results from the mixed methods case study seemed to indicate that successful mathematics students have the four components of the proposed model of mathematical capital. The four proposed components are: (a) a positive mathematical self-esteem, (b) a working toolkit of mathematical skills and content knowledge and the application of that knowledge, (c) a problem-solving mindset, and (d) access to a support network. Implications for mathematics instruction are included. Future research needs to address how the four components interact so that more students can experience success in mathematics and become mathematically literate.


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