The motivational effects of a GPS mapping project on student attitudes toward mathematics and mathematical achievement
The purpose of this study was to investigate how student attitudes and mathematical achievement would be affected by a mathematics-based GPS mapping project. The participants were 75 ninth-grade students taking algebra 1A. These students were freshmen at a small, rural 9-12 high school located in the southeast. Two different methods for assessing attitudes were used, and one method for measuring mathematical achievement was used. The Attitudes Toward Mathematics Inventory (ATMI) is a 40-item mathematics attitude survey that was administered to the entire study population in both a pre-treatment and post-treatment format. A GPS Attitude Survey was administered to the treatment group at the end of the study. The mathematics diagnostics portion of the New Century Education system was used for the entire population in a pretest/posttest format. The treatment consisted of GPS mapping activities that incorporated solving algebra problems with the relatively new sport of geocaching. The students had to solve correctly the equations that would provide the latitude and longitude of their next clue for completing the activity. The quantitative data were analyzed using a three-way ANOVA for the surveys and a ANCOVA for the NCE mathematics diagnostic test. Results indicated that there was a small gain for the ATMI and the NCE mathematics diagnostics test by the control group. In addition, information gained with informal interaction with the students indicated that most of them enjoyed doing GPS activities to the point that they did not consider themselves to be "doing math." Based upon the formal and informal assessments of this study, it is suggested that students would benefit by the incorporation of more mathematics-based GPS mapping activities into the curriculum.