Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Beth L. MacDonald, Katherine Vela


Beth L. MacDonald


Katherine Vela


Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham


Jessica F. Shumway


Sara Bakker


Previous research suggests that integrating music into mathematics can benefit students’ mathematics learning but leaves questions as to exactly how students interact with music context and mathematics simultaneously. This study used a descriptive multiple-case study design to understand the way high school students utilize music while engaging in music-contextualized algebra tasks. Eight pairs of high school students participated in this study. The procedures included training four volunteer high school teacher-researchers to carry out three music-contextualized mathematics lessons in their own classes. Data sources for each pair included three student work samples, three audio-video recordings of class sessions, and one audio recording of a semi-structured interview. Qualitative data analysis included within- and between-cases using both open and deductive coding. Results revealed how students utilized music during the three consecutive mathematics lessons and five distinct ways the students utilized the music context. Students used the music context (1) as a source of engagement, (2) to label mathematics, (3) to contextualize an answer, (4) to reevaluate the accuracy of answers, and (5) as a fund of knowledge to draw from. However, students did not always utilize the music context in every task problem. Task problems involving physical, verbal, and contextual representations were more often associated with contextualized answers than task problems involving visual and symbolic representations. The findings also showed how students translating from contextual representations engage in processes of “articulating” and “modelling.” Students translating to contextual representations from other representation types engaged in processes of “contextualizing.” These findings suggest that when music is purposefully integrated into mathematics lessons, there is potential for students to utilize the music context in a variety of ways. These findings are important to teachers and curriculum writers wishing to understand how they can create music-contextualized mathematics lessons and understand the types of connections their students might make to music during those lessons. Implications from this study help educators understand the importance of bridging the gap between mathematical representations and music in high school mathematics classes.

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