Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Regina Toolin


The objective of this multiple case study was to examine how three pairs of high school students from a northern Vermont high school approached quadratic functions through traditional and multiple representation tasks. Four research questions were examined: 1) How do students think about the quadratic function as they work on a series of tasks? 2) What mathematical strategies do students employ when they work on a series of tasks related to the quadratic function? 3) How does the type of task, traditional versus multiple representation, impact students' understanding of the quadratic function? 4) What kinds of knowledge (procedural or conceptual) do students utilize when completing a series of tasks about the quadratic function? Qualitative research methods that utilized think-aloud protocols while students were engaged in four tasks pertaining to the quadratic function were employed in this study.

Results suggested that students tend to think about isolated parts of the problem when solving quadratic problems. Early on in their learning about quadratics, students primarily relied on procedural strategies such as think-alouds, gestures, algebraic formulas, converting equation forms, process of elimination, dissecting problems, backtracking, and drawing pictures. In addition, students preferred the standard form to the vertex form when solving quadratics and often confused the y-intercept of the standard form with the y-coordinate of the vertex when the function was in vertex form. Results also indicated that students preferred to algebraically solve a problem versus tabular or graphical strategies. By exploring how students approach the quadratic function through their own voices, this study offers some insight into the conceptions and strategies that students use for solving problems that involve the quadratic function as well as possibilities for how quadratics may be taught in high school.



Number of Pages

173 p.