ERIC Number: EJ1121718
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Is Learning in Developmental Math Associated with Community College Outcomes?
Quarles, Christopher L.; Davis, Mickey
Community College Review, v45 n1 p33-51 Jan 2017
Objective: Remedial mathematics courses are widely considered a barrier to student success in community college, and there has been a significant amount of work recently to reform them. Yet, there is little research that explicitly examines whether increasing learning in remedial classes improves grades or completion rates. This study examines the relationship between procedural and conceptual learning in developmental math and measures of progress toward a degree, such as grades. Method: A mathematical skills assessment was given to all intermediate algebra students at a large, urban community college, and to students in the following college-level class at the beginning of the next term. Assessment scores were compared with student characteristics, grades in intermediate algebra, grades in college-level math, and whether the student earned a credential. Results: After controlling for grades in previous classes, procedural algebra skills were not associated with higher grades in college-level math. Conceptual mathematics proficiency was associated with higher grades in general education math but not in precalculus. In developmental classes, however, learning gains were primarily procedural, which were correlated with grades. In addition, students who took at least one term off of math had significantly lower procedural skills but not conceptual skills. Contributions: The findings challenge the assumption in community college research that increased student learning in remedial mathematics will improve student outcomes. The results suggest that the type of mathematics taught in developmental classes can have an effect on student outcomes. Instruction focused on procedural skills may not be preparing students for college mathematics.
Descriptors: Remedial Mathematics, Mathematics Instruction, Community Colleges, Two Year College Students, Algebra, Mathematics Tests, Scores, Mathematics Skills, Grades (Scholastic), College Mathematics, Statistical Analysis, Regression (Statistics), Pretests Posttests
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Washington
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A