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ERIC Number: ED564486
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 291
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3036-1320-3
ISSN: N/A
Focus on Fractions to Scaffold Algebra
Ooten, Cheryl Thomas
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
Beginning algebra is a gatekeeper course into the pipeline to higher mathematics courses required for respected professions in engineering, science, statistics, mathematics, education, and technology. Beginning algebra can also be a perfect storm if the necessary foundational skills are not within a student's grasp. What skills ensure beginning algebra success? "Focus on Fractions" worked with beginning algebra students in community college to explore fraction fluency, specifically by determining their fraction skills, knowledge, and understandings and assessing how important fraction skills were to their algebra success (measured by course grade). A quantitative study employed multiple linear path analysis with data from student surveys of demographics, self-efficacy beliefs, and behaviors along with placement test conceptual subscores and final course grades. The sample comprised 563 students at two diverse colleges in Rancho Santiago Community College District. Direct and indirect predictors of a higher course grade included higher ratings of student self-efficacy beliefs about mathematics skills, understanding of fractions, and reasoning with fractions and higher fraction and decimal subscores on the placement exam (Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project Level I Algebra Readiness). Self-efficacy beliefs actually were stronger predictors than placement exam subscores. Student belief about the likelihood of passing the course was a strong predictor. A qualitative study of interviews with 24 community college students enrolled in beginning algebra found most students (62.5%) had a high school background in Algebra II. Most students were negative about their mathematics and fraction skills. Most gave inadequate explanations of fractions, instead giving rote rules and algorithms. Few gave meaningful real-life fraction application examples. Students successfully used sketches to aid understanding and accuracy. Most students were open to discussing their reasoning during interviews and exploring the problems afterward. Students appeared to take responsibility for their own learning and recognized they had not taken responsibility in high school. "Focus on Fractions" demonstrates that students not fluent in fractions lack skills vital for beginning algebra success. The research establishes the value of fraction interventions for community college students before they take college mathematics courses, as well as the importance of good fraction teaching tools for elementary teachers. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California