Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Fatih Ari

Second Advisor

Tammi D. Kolski


Middle school students who need help understanding how to manipulate math expressions involving the negative sign have demonstrated difficulty learning pre-algebra content that prepares them for higher-level math courses. This study involved a multi-media intervention to improve student negative sign proficiency and math self-efficacy. The following research questions were explored: (1) How and to what extent did the computer-based intervention influence students’ math proficiency in manipulating math expressions involving negative signs? (2) How and to what extent did the computer-based intervention influence students’ math self-efficacy in manipulating math expressions involving negative signs? and (3) What were students’ perceptions about the computer-based intervention on their learning experience about math expressions involving negative signs? This study implemented an action research mixed methods study. The participants in this study included 28 middle school students who participated in an intervention three days a week, working on 12 computer-based math learning modules. The module’s learning goals focused on students evaluating negative sign expressions supported by Realistic Mathematics Education learning theory, hypothetical learning trajectories, cognitive theory of multimedia learning, and self-efficacy instructional strategies. The effectiveness of the computer-based math learning modules was measured through quantitative and qualitative data sources that included a mathematics proficiency pre- and post-intervention assessment, pre- and post-intervention Sources of Middle School Mathematics Self-Efficacy Scale survey, think-aloud activities, lesson exit tickets, perception survey, and individual student interviews. The results showed a statistically significant improvement in negative sign math proficiency, a non-significant improvement in math self-efficacy, and that student perceptions of learning through the modules were favorable. In addition, three themes emerged: the modules provided students with a productive learning environment for reviewing math concepts and skill mastery through self-pacing; feedback supported students' mathematical proficiency and self-efficacy mastery experiences; and conceptualized learning fostered students’ persistence in working through their struggles with mathematics. This research contributes to understanding technology intervention learning environments that include middle school math self-efficacy instructional strategies. The pedagogy implications for middle school teachers include implementing technology interventions for student math content review and using think-aloud activities for formative feedback on student understanding.


© 2023, Brian Charles Grimm