Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



This mixed methods, exploratory study investigated the importance of the menstrual cycle diagram for understanding human reproduction. Several theories were used to support this study including Visual Design Theory (Tufte, 1990, 1997, 2001), and Human Constructivist Theory (Mintzes, Wandersee, Novak 1998). The two sexuality education programs used by society, abstinence-only programs and comprehensive sex education programs were compared to illustrate how this study applies to the current state of sexuality education in the United States. Community college students from two institutions in the southern region of the United States, registered in five introductory biological science courses, participated in a unit on the menstrual cycle diagram. These students were given a pretest and posttest probing their knowledge about the menstrual cycle and the value added by using a menstrual cycle diagram during instruction. The main diagram that was tested used a calendar format diagram designed by the researcher. After the posttest was administered, six students from each course were clinically interviewed. A partitioned content analysis was performed on the qualitative data with respect to student understanding and variables--gender, age category, prior knowledge, childbearing experience and geographic area. Pearson’s chi-square analysis was used on the quantitative data to determine if there was a statistically significant difference between the answers for each question on the pretest and posttest. In addition, a paired t-test was performed on the quantitative data to determine if there was a statistically significant difference between the pretest and posttest scores of the students who participated in the study, overall and by category. Nine of the 23 questions showed a statistical significant difference between the pretest and posttest. On six of those nine questions the students’ knowledge increased as a result of the presentation. The areas of the menstrual cycle where knowledge was gained included: menses/menstruation, ovulation, menopause, hormonal control, and life span of sperm. During the interviews, students indicated there was value added to their understanding of the menstrual cycle with the use of the content-equivalent, calendar-format menstrual cycle diagram. The value added was directly related to the symbols used to represent the events of the menstrual cycle.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

James Wandersee



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Education Commons