Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Rhonda Jeffries


Research shows that children of different backgrounds and cultures learn and perform differently in mathematics despite similar intelligence levels and mathematics instruction (Alvarez & Bali, 2004). Ethnomathematics strives to explore and explain such phenomena in terms of the complex role culture plays in one's background experiences and perceptions that influence cognition and how school is experienced (Ascher, 1991; Barton, 1996; Bishop, 1994; D'Ambrosio, 1994). The importance of recognizing and utilizing the mathematical concepts imbedded in students' everyday activities is stressed in the field of ethnomathematics (Ascher, 1991; Bishop, 1994; Presmeg, 1998). In order to relate students' out-of-school experiences to content learning for the most accessible, effective math instruction, educators must have a deep understanding of students' experiences and how mathematical concepts relate to these. This qualitative research aims to shed light on the out-of-school activities that a group of 4th grade students from the same rural area of the Lowcountry of South Carolina participate. The manner in which the students participate in these activities, including any use of mathematical concepts, was explored. A technique called dialogue journaling, in which students write about their out-of-school experiences with the teacher responding with written questions and comments (Peyton, 1993), was tailored for the purposes of math education. This dialogue journaling was used to learn about students' activities, any utilization of mathematical concepts involved in these activities, and students' perceptions of the embedded mathematics.

The journals were also explored as a meansfor classroom teachers to encourage students to apply more mathematical concepts in their out-of-school activities.

It was found these students participate in a large range of daily activities. Activities that were common for many of the students included watching television, riding bikes, playing on the computer, playing video games, sports, horseback riding, hunting, riding four-wheelers, golf carts, and go-carts. Some activities were unique to individuals such as observing spiders and modeling in fashion shows.

Mathematical ideas embedded in the manner in which these students participate in their activities began to emerge. These concepts include simple counting, skip counting, patterns, using money, measuring and estimating distance and weight, division, and probability. The students did not readily perceive themselves as using many mathematical ideas during their activities. Mathematical ideas that were recognized by students include simple counting, using money, and measuring.

Dialogue journals proved to be an efficient strategy for learning about activities in which students participate, how they participate in such activities, and their perceptions of these activities. The majority of the students liked having written conversations with their teacher in the dialogue journals, but did not like having to respond in the journals for homework.

Dialogue journals were able to be used to encourage and push students to apply more mathematical thinking when considering their daily activities in some cases, but not all.


© 2013, Sherry Carillon Hyatt