How Can I Make Algebra More Relevant for My 9th Grade Remedial Algebra Students?


Fall 12-10-2014



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Laura Halldin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Jennifer Pothast

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Mike Pahl


The research question addressed in this capstone is, “How can I make algebra more relevant for my 9th grade remedial algebra students?” The key influence for this research was students who frequently ask when they will use algebra in their lives outside of school. During the research process, the author interviewed a computer scientist, an engineer, a businessperson, two secondary algebra teachers, and a community college math instructor. Among other topics, participants were asked about which algebraic concepts are most important and ideas for lessons incorporating algebra into real-world settings. A wide range of applications were mentioned, but most participants struggled to generate lesson ideas surrounding those applications. The author took one lesson idea mentioned and developed a lesson plan relating direct and inverse variation to planning a road trip. The author concludes that algebra’s importance lies more in the problemsolving skills it promotes than its individual applications.


At-risk Students, Curriculum, Mathematics, Motivation

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