Dec. 11 Thesis Defense – Sarah Rizzo

The Maine Center for Research in STEM Education
and the University of Maine



MST Candidate
Sarah E. Rizzo

Thesis Advisor: Natasha Speer

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of
Master of Science (in Teaching)

May 2013


 Geometric transformations are difficult for students to perform. Often known as shifts, flips, turns, and stretches, transformations include translations, reflections, rotations, and dilations. Research indicates that pre-school through high school students have great difficulty performing and constructing transformations. Common strategies students use to construct the answers they give have also been documented by researchers. However, little is known about why students give the answers they do. The goals of this study are to understand how college students, some of whom are pre-service elementary, middle and high school teachers, perform transformations and to determine if a change of phrasing of the questions changes students’ performance. Student performances as well as verbalized thought process were utilized during analysis to investigate the research questions. Categories were developed based upon participant rationale and performance of the placement of the transformed triangle. A group of students’ performances were compared when given directions in formal mathematical language and when given directions in informal mathematical language.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Arthur St. John Hill Auditorium, 165 ESRB