Title

Pre-Collegiate Factors Influencing Students' Success in their First University Mathematics Course: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study

Author

Michele Iiams

Date of Award

8-1-2002

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Teaching & Learning

Abstract

The quantitative investigation conducted considered the effect of pre-collegiate factors such as high school size, high school grade point average, ACT mathematics component score, ACT composite score, highest level of high school mathematics available, highest level of high school mathematics completed with at least a grade of C, and sex on the initial level of mathematics students' enrolled in and the grade earned in their first university mathematics course. The qualitative inquiry obtained the students' points of view on the transition from high school math to university mathematics and the influence of their past experiences on their success or lack of success in their first university mathematics course. Student interviews also provided insight into how the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 1989) were implemented in their high school mathematics courses.

In particular it was concluded that quantitative measures of the individual students' abilities (i.e. ACT scores, high school grade point average, highest level of high school math completed with a C or better, etc.) are better predictors of students' initial university mathematics course and subsequent success than general high school descriptors. Qualitatively, it was concluded that the use of technology, students' study habits and strategies for success, and relationships between the student and their peers and the student and their teachers all play an important role in student success in university mathematics. From the student interviews it was also concluded that, in spite of the recommendations of the NCTM Standards, high school and university mathematics classrooms were still predominantly teacher-centered.

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