The relationship of mathematics computation with concrete reasoning ability, math attitude and four demographic variables of English and Spanish-speaking incarcerated adult males

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

John Kleinert, Committee Chair


This study is concerned with whether: (1) a relationship exists between math achievement and concrete reasoning ability, math attitude, family size, father absence, and the educational level of inmates and their parents; (2) the above variables have a predictive value in differentiating between low and high math performers; and (3) English-speaking inmates differ from Spanish-speaking inmates in any of the above variables.One hundred and twenty English and Spanish-speaking incarcerated adult males were administered the Concrete Operational Reasoning Test, the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitude Scales, and the math computation subtest of the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills. Demographic data were gathered through individual interviews. English and Spanish-speaking inmates were tested and interviewed in their own language, respectively.Data were analyzed by multiple regression, discriminant function analysis, Hotelling's T$\sp2$, and chi-square. To answer the research questions posed, the sample was grouped according to language (English and Spanish) and level of math performance (low and high).The study's findings demonstrated that: (1) concrete reasoning ability, subject education, and family size accounted for about 50 percent of the variance in math computation ability; (2) Concrete reasoning ability and subject education significantly predicted group membership in either the low or high math groups. (The proportion of correct classification was 82.5 percent). Although significant, parent education level was a weak predictor of math group membership; (3) As a group, English-speaking inmates and their parents showed a higher level of formal schooling than their counterparts in the Spanish group. There were no significant differences in the other variables; (4) Inmates who failed in math computation (91.5%) appear to be functioning at a pre-concrete stage; (5) Most inmates irrespective of language or math ability found class inclusion to be the most difficult operational task.


Education, Mathematics; Education, Sociology of; Education, Adult and Continuing; Education, Educational Psychology

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