Using graphic organizers to enhance eighth graders' understanding of mathematical vocabulary and concepts

Phyllis Rita Bartoli, Fordham University


This research study investigated the importance of the understanding of mathematical language in order to assist in more deeply comprehending mathematical concepts. Participants included 22 eighth grade Algebra 2 students in a public middle school of approximately 1100 students in a medium size city in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Each student took a pretest to assess prior knowledge of the material to be presented in the chapter. The teacher-researcher presented the students a chapter in their Algebra 2 textbook that consisted of five lessons. Students were obliged to partake in classwork and complete the homework. Subsequently, students completed a mathematics journal, graphic organizer, and mathematics journal for each corresponding lesson that had been taught and reviewed. This process was followed for each of the five lessons. Students were then administered the posttest to assess mathematical concepts learned. Five research questions were posed in this study. They were: (1) How does a language-oriented approach to mathematics impact on students' comprehension of mathematical concepts? (2) How does the use of a mathematics journal facilitate mathematical application of mathematical skills to problem solving? (3) How does the use of a graphic organizer assist in vocabulary building and identification? (4) How does a mathematics lab assist in the contextual application of mathematical terms in problem solving situations? (5) What metacognitive strategies do students use in a language-oriented mathematics curriculum? Two categories emerged from the data analysis. They were Common Language and Unique Language. The category, Common Language, had two subcategories: (1) Textbook Language and (2) Own Language. The category, Unique Language also had two subcategories: (1) Incorrect/Incomplete Language and Correct Concept and (2) Incorrect/Incomplete Language and Concept. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data allowed for the generation of five hypotheses based upon the research questions: (1) Students' comprehension of mathematical concepts using a language-oriented approach to mathematics increases the use of mathematical terminology. (2) Students' use of mathematical journals increases the acquisition of mathematical concepts. (3) Students' use of graphic organizers increases vocabulary building and identification. (4) Students' recognition of mathematical terms and mathematical concepts as measured by the mathematics laboratory activities increases. (5) Students' use of a variety of metacognitive strategies increases as a result of using the graphic organizers, mathematics journals, and mathematics laboratory activities.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Mathematics education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Bartoli, Phyllis Rita, "Using graphic organizers to enhance eighth graders' understanding of mathematical vocabulary and concepts" (2003). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3101151.