Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Learning

First Committee Member

Micah Stohlmann

Second Committee Member

Jeff Shih

Third Committee Member

Jori Beck

Fourth Committee Member

Travis Olson

Fifth Committee Member

Alice Corkill

Number of Pages



This case study examines the mathematics-related beliefs of fourth and fifth grade students who participated in an after-school integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program where participants completed four Model-Eliciting Activities. The research questions addressed by this study are, What is the nature of the change in mathematics-related beliefs of students who participate in an after-school MEA program? In particular, what is the difference, if any, of the nature of the change in beliefs across varying ability levels? The framework used to describe these beliefs was developed by Kloosterman and includes beliefs about the nature of mathematics and mathematics learning. The rich description of the participants’ mathematics-related beliefs in this study provides a rationale for why mathematics-related beliefs are important and how they can affect students’ abilities to solve non-routine problems like MEAs.

Data collected included a pre and post-questionnaire, six individual interviews selected so that there were two high-, two middle- and two low-ability students and focus groups. Interviews and focus groups were collected before and after the after-school program as well as after the completion of each MEA.

Overall, the participants’ mathematics- related beliefs were found to slightly change as a result of participating in the MEAs. For the high-ability level students who participated in the interviews there was no change in their mathematics-related beliefs. The middle-ability level students were able to better connect mathematics to their other classes and to the world around them as a result of completing the MEAs. For the low-ability level students there was no consistent change in their mathematics-related beliefs. However one of the low-ability level students indicated that MEAs would be good motivational activities. One middle-ability level student and one low-ability student reported changes in their beliefs about mathematics after every activity except the last one.

Focus group participants also reported some change in their mathematics-related beliefs. Two high-level participants suggested that they could learn mathematics when problem solving like engineers. Completing the MEAs caused two high-ability level students to think that doing mathematics was fun and also to understand that there is more to mathematics than just solving problems on paper.


integrated STEM; mathematics-related beliefs; model-eliciting activities


Science and Mathematics Education