Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Beth MacDonald


This researcher examined an alternative classroom structure for ninth-grade students substantially below grade level (SBGL) in mathematics. This researcher considered whether targeting the academic and social needs of students SBGL in mathematics in a ninth-grade class would increase their self-efficacy and engagement with the mathematics by studying four teaching effects: teacher, teacher-curriculum, peer-curriculum, and peer.

The researcher used interviews, observations, and surveys to collect qualitative and quantitative data. The case study (n = 19) employed a QUAL + quan convergent parallel mixed methods case study. Meta-inferences from the analyses of qualitative and quantitative data indicate that the structure of the observed class increased in positive behaviors associated with self-efficacy, cognitive engagement, and behavioral engagement. While the data show an increase in emotional and social engagement, the quantitative data did not show a statistical significance in their increase.

These changes illustrated that these ninth-grade students recognized and willingly worked to close the gaps that they acknowledge they had in their mathematics understanding. Findings indicated that the convergent results of self-efficacy, cognitive engagement and behavioral engagement related to all four teaching effects. While qualitative data showed a strong positive change associated with the divergent results of social and emotional engagement, students self-reported little social and emotional peer influence in student interviews and student surveys.