Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


Students often struggle with mathematical word problems because they often cannot decide what steps they need to take to solve the problem. In this study, the author explores how learning centers impact the learning needs and problem-solving skills of diverse students, as well as how they might create opportunities for student collaboration. The researcher performed a case study focusing on three fourth grade students within her classroom—one higher achieving, one average, and one lower achieving. Learning centers were set up within the classroom for approximately eight weeks, during which the researcher observed students’ behavior. The researcher found that two of the three students lacked confidence in their problem solving skills, all three had difficulty identifying and discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information within the problem, and that students did not consistently apply problem solving strategies when at the centers. The researcher also found that the learning centers had the negative effect of making students implicitly aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, increasing their self-consciousness and sensitivity to differentiated instruction. Ultimately, the researcher found that the learning center provided a flexible, individualized learning environment that increased students’ problem solving skills and confidence in using mathematical language.


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