Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


What is the purpose of essential or guiding questions in a classroom setting? Do they motivate student learning or develop critical thinking skills? Do they simply review previous lessons or nurture insight into new areas and stimulate students in their academic pursuit? Some institutions have gone so far as to label themselves as Essential Schools, places where curriculum has been centered on student inquiry and exploration in selected subject areas. This thesis project explores the idea of essential questions in aiding student understanding of complex math content. The project was conducted during the fourth quarter of an academic year in a high school math class with 30 participants. Essential Questions packets were developed for each math unit in the quarter. The packets included “what we need to learn” and “what we know” queries. Student surveys, pre and post testing, and test score comparison before and after the study, were analyzed for trends. (It is noted that this section of the academic year typically comprises some of the most complex math concepts for Algebra.) Conclusions yielded mixed results. While some students’ academic averages and subject specific understanding did benefit from the use of Essential Question packets, others remained the same or were lower.


CORE-Plus: Contemporary Mathematics in Context Unit 7: Quadratic Functions Investigation 1 pgs 462-469 is not readable in original thesis. See original textbook for better copy.