Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Teaching, Learning and Educational Studies

First Advisor

Christine Browning

Second Advisor

Maren Tillman


Understanding how the structure of a group of students impacts how they work together has always been an interesting concept for me, as sometimes my teachers strategically placed certain students with other students, and sometimes we got to choose our seats in class. Recently, I began to focus on how my college peers worked together in groups in my mathematics classes. For example, I noticed how some students would start to lead and take ownership for a group, others would facilitate these group conversations, commenting on the lead students’ suggestions or perhaps recording answers to group work but not necessarily contributing to the discussion, and finally others would remain quiet throughout the group conversations and not participate much at all. These observations have been evident to me in both group tasks, as well as in whole-class discussions. Having some understanding of the roles each individual takes on in productive and less-productive group work, as well as how to alter a group structure to allow for more equitable participation within the group, would be important for me as a beginning teacher of mathematics and thus, helped to frame my research focus for this project.

There are many factors that may contribute to how one participates in a small group in a mathematics class such as their interest in the content (Hiddi & Renninger 2006; Fung, Tan, Chen 2018), their knowledge of how they are being evaluated on the task (Azevedo, diSessa, & Sherin 2012), and their prior experiences, knowledge, and current curiosity in learning (Kovalainen & Kumpulainen, 2007). Additionally, a student’s attitude towards the subject has been found to impact the level of engagement that a student portrays (Qaisar, Dilshad, Butt 2015). Another factor that interested me was the use of technology in the mathematics classroom. Polly (2014) found that “technology provides learners with the ability to quickly generate and manipulate mathematical representations, thus allowing them to concentrate more on examining the mathematical concepts and making connections between the representations and the mathematics they explore”. Since research suggests attitudes about mathematics are not fixed (Qaisar, Dilshad, Butt 2015), I chose to focus on student attitudes, and incorporate technology, as I was interested to see if technology may play a role in the changing of attitudes.

Thus, I examined if there are any correlations between students’ attitudes towards mathematics and the collaborative practices that they exhibit in small group work in the classroom. Additionally, my research examined the incorporation of technology, and the impact technology may have on changing attitudes of the students, or the collaborative work of small groups.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Kukulka Defense Powerpoint.pdf (343 kB)
Defense Presentation