Mathematics major showcases work during Undergraduate Research Conference

Megan Webster, AU '14

Megan Webster, AU ’14, participated in the Honors Program poster presentations as part of the 2014 Undergraduate Research Conference.

The 10th annual Aurora University Undergraduate Research Conference provided undergraduate students an opportunity to present the results of their individual and group research to the AU and surrounding community. The two-day conference sparked dialogue around a variety of topics.

Senior mathematics and secondary education major Megan Webster investigated the impact of finances in school districts and the mathematical achievement of students in those districts in her project, Finances and the Impact on Mathematical Achievement.

“I am a future educator and when I started looking for potential jobs, I became interested in how schools got their money,” said Webster. “It was interesting to me because as a teacher, I wanted to know what financial resources were there for a school. Then being a mathematics major, I wanted to know how a school’s finances affected its mathematical performance. It all began to tie together.”

Literature suggests that there is the potential quantitative resemblance between the finances schools have to utilize and whether or not students have the opportunity to develop their mathematics skills. Research shows that some explanations for this are how the districts are taxed and the demographic differences in enrollment of the schools. Webster’s study aimed to answer the question of whether or not this correlation occurs.

“The process was interesting. I used public records and data analysis to compare districts’ enrollment, instructional and operational expenditures, and the percentage of students that are low income,” said Webster. “I was able to conclude that there is no correlation between school finances and mathematical success of students. A student’s performance is more affected by the influence of their teachers, administration and parents.”

Completing the project contributed to Webster’s preparation for a future career as a mathematics teacher and helped her reach an important realization. “Developing strong mathematical success on state testing, and in turn the classroom, is dependent on much more than the money districts put towards each student,” she said.