Special Education ETDs

Publication Date



In my experiences, students with Developmental Disability (DD) are routinely excluded from Algebra and other high-level mathematics courses. People with DD do not have the opportunity to learn Algebra, which may support the understanding and provide purpose for learning money and budgeting skills that, perhaps, could help them avoid financial difficulties as adults. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of young adults with DD and me, their teacher researcher, about mathematics, finance, and self within a 6 week program of instruction titled the Money Club. This includes how adults with DD reason, apply, perceive, and solve applied mathematics problems in finance. Access to general education curriculum is not only a federally mandated law, but also a core interest to me as an educator. I want my students to learn what everyone else is learning, go places everyone else is going, and do things side by side with other people. Many people with DD do not learn algebra (even if the course title is Algebra). They will focus on basic skills, life skills, and non-skilled labor-intensive processes. I wanted people with DD to have access to higher mathematics and extend their life skills to include it. In high school, people with DD learn basic mathematics and life skills, which consist of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers; or as my peer teachers say, working on their mathematics skills.' They are taught many of the things I offered in the Money Club at a topical level: saving money, overspending, balancing their personal budgets, and avoiding people who take advantage of them. The Money Club's difference is that we used algebraic ways of thinking to accomplish these goals: Use of variables, function tables, graphs, matrices, and other higher order mathematics concepts and skills. We demonstrated exactly what happens mathematically when they do not balance their budget, spend too much, take out a bad loan, use a high interest credit card, go to the pawnshop, or invest their money. The Money Club provided a gateway to higher mathematics through an immediately interesting subject: Money.'


Developmentally disabled youth -- Education, Finance, personal -- Study and teaching, Mathematics -- Study and teaching (Secondary)

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Copeland, Susan

Second Committee Member

Kitchen, Richard

Third Committee Member

Armstrong, Jan

Fourth Committee Member

Keefe, Elizabeth