Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Steven Wininger (Director), Lisa Duffin, Janet Tassell

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Elementary school is a transition time for student interests and motivation and there is a need for teachers to provide opportunities to facilitate continued interest. One area of concern is in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. One pedagogical approach that may help with facilitating interest is problem-based learning (PBL; Barrows, 1996). The purpose of this study was to assess changes in students’ reported levels of individual interest in mathematics across time and to assess differences in individual interest based on amount of PBL exposure. Participants included students (n = 45) involved with Project GEMS (Gifted Education in Mathematics and Science; Roberts, 2008), which was a federally funded grant through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. Interest in mathematics was measured at the beginning of the first fall semester students entered the program and at the end of each subsequent spring semester with a 17-item interest measure consisting of four sub scores: emotion, value, knowledge, and engagement. Results indicate a negative linear trend for composite and sub factors of interest across time except value. The PBL intervention did not moderate the change in interest across time. Conclusions, possible limitations, and future directions are discussed.


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research