Date of Award

Spring 2013

Project Type


Program or Major

Mathematics Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Timothy Fukawa-Connelly


An implicit assumption of many university classes is that students will spend a large amount of time outside the classroom refining their understanding of the material to develop mastery of the concepts. This is especially true in first year mathematics courses at the undergraduate level. However, little is known about what students do to fulfill this didactical contract with their instructors. The currently available research relies primarily on self-reported data from the students collected through questionnaires or interviews. This study sought to start describing what students do while studying mathematics in a self-created group outside of the classroom setting through direct observation.

In particular, this study provides a mathematical foundation for determining study groups, identifies what materials students utilize while studying together, develops a method for describing the activities that occur over the course of a study session through the use of macrotasks and microtasks, and identifies what roles students enacted during group problem solving sessions.