Perceptions and Lived Experiences of Traditional Community College Developmental Mathematics Students

Perceptions and Lived Experiences of Traditional Community College Developmental Mathematics Students

Author: 
Mince John Mathai
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
Many students graduate from high school without adequate proficiency in mathematics, which is necessary to successfully undertake the challenges of college-level mathematics courses. As the underprepared students pursue postsecondary education, these institutions are required to provide remediation in mathematics to equip them with basic mathematics skills that will enable them to successfully undertake college-level course work. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe, understand, and interpret the meaning of the experience of learning mathematics, of traditional community college developmental mathematics students during their K–12 education, consistent with the phenomenological hermeneutic research design. The study involved face-to-face semistructured interviews with 16 participants to collect their experiences with learning mathematics. The interviews were analyzed and themes were developed using thematic analysis proposed by van Manen. Five themes emerged from the study: (a) family background, (b) personal factors, (c) teacher effectiveness, (d) absence of better support system and intensive interventions, and (e) hope for a better future. The study revealed that the community college students, who were placed in mathematics remediation, face many challenges with mathematics learning during the K–12 education period. As a result, they failed to achieve mathematics proficiency and were required to take remedial mathematics courses at the college level. Though students consider mathematics remediation as a setback, they believe that remediation will prepare them for collegelevel course work and help them to achieve their dream of attaining a college degree.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to my father, Mr. P. G. Daniel, who passed away in October 2012, for his unconditional love, encouragement, and lifelong love for education.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to my committee chair, Dr. Renee Hall, and committee members, Dr. Lequisha Brown-Joseph and Dr. Alverna Champion, for their continued support and confidence in my ability to complete this study. I extend my gratitude to all the participants who shared their experiences with me. Without them, the research wouldn’t have been possible. I thank my children, Gabriella and Stephen, my husband, John, and my family for their encouragement and support. Above all I thank the Lord Almighty for His grace and guidance.