Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Brenda Kallio


Meeting the educational needs of rural Minnesota high school high-ability learners in mathematics can be challenging for educators. This qualitative study involved interviewing high school graduates who scored between 30 and 36 on the mathematics subtest of the ACT and high school mathematics teachers who observed high-ability mathematics students. The graduates were from four different one-section or two-section schools from three counties in rural Minnesota. The purpose of this study was to use phenomenological qualitative research methods to identify educational experiences of high-ability mathematics learners from rural one-section and two-section high schools. There were two research questions guiding this study. First, what were the classroom experiences of high-ability learners in mathematics attending one-section and two-section high schools in rural Minnesota? Second, what classroom experiences have mathematics teachers of high-ability learners in mathematics observed while teaching students attending one-section and two-section high schools in rural Minnesota? The results of the study showed the high-ability students participated in a variety of activities in high-school, had parental support, and liked being challenged academically in mathematics. The high-ability students found math easy, preferred to work independently on projects, did not see a need for technology in the mathematics classroom other than calculators, were highly motivated to learn and do well, and enjoyed being with their peers. Furthermore, the students did not feel they were behind academically in college, when compared to their peers, even though they did not have the opportunity to participate in any special programming for high-ability students while in elementary school or high school. The teachers' observations supported the students' experiences except the teachers said technology in the mathematics classroom was important and the students can be challenging in the classroom.