mathematics, limited English proficient, high school, algebra, geometry, learning environment


This study described the attitudes of students who are limited English proficient (LEP) and their teachers toward the learning environment within their mathematics classes. Data collected via a student survey, student and teacher interviews, and classroom observations were analyzed in this mixed-method study to investigate these attitudes. Accuracy of the findings was confirmed via triangulation. A population of 79 students was chosen through purposive sampling methods that included LEP and non-LEP students in algebra and geometry classes. Students were administered a 30-item questionnaire using the What is Happening in This Class? survey. Scores provided from the survey's six scales were analyzed using an independent samples t-test to describe similarities and differences between the students. The Cooperation Scale was found statistically significant (p = .002) with a mean score of 3.72 for the LEP students compared to 3.74 for non-LEP students. Four scales were found statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) comparing the algebra and geometry students: Teacher Support (M = 3.61), Involvement (M = 3.38), Cooperation (M = 3.65), and Equity (M = 4.24). Qualitative data was collected via classroom observations and the student and teacher interviews. Classroom observations provided an additional descriptive account of the lived experiences of the participants in this study. Themes observed within LEP and non-LEP classes involved the physical setting, teaching methods, and instructional media used to present lessons. Four additional themes were found in the LEP classes that referred to the experience of teaching LEP students. They are language use, teaching methods specific to LEP students, classroom management, and teacher and student support. The interviews incorporated a phenomenological approach to examine the attitudes of participating students and teachers toward their classroom environments. The following five similar themes emerged from the examination of sheltered and nonsheltered teacher attitudes: (a) support systems, (b) teaching methods, (c) student mathematical skills, (d) instructional media, and (e) student attitudes toward mathematics. The additional theme of language emerged exclusively for sheltered teachers. Suggested further study on the attitudes of LEP students and their teachers in mathematics classes are discussed that includes the amount of support provided in LEP classes, LEP teacher practices in support of student educational needs related to language and mathematics. Additional findings were revealed throughout this study to suggest the effective use of instructional media in LEP mathematics classes and whether or not culture plays a role in their attitudes towards mathematics.


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Graduation Date





Gunter, Glenda


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Teaching and Learning Principles

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction








Release Date

December 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)