• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

An Ex Post Facto Investigation of Mathematics Remediation and Student Success

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Christopher Gentles
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to explore the differences in grade point average (GPA) between students who took at least one remedial math course and those students who did not take any at a private university in South Florida. The study examines GPA and retention patterns in relation to recommendations by the school for students to take remedial courses. The study further examined the relationship between the percentage of remedial courses passed and end of the first year of college GPA, and explores the relationship between family income and how many semesters students were retained. The researcher seeks to determine if all students who took remedial courses following recommendations had equivalent high school GPAs and whether they remained the same or differed after one year of college from those students who failed to take remedial courses after being advised to do so. This quantitative study further enriches the body of literature by providing insight into the impact of participating in remedial math courses on college GPA and student retention. The study also provides information on the relationship between family income and semesters retained. The study reveals that 71% of the students who were recommended to take remedial courses successfully completed one or more such courses. The study also indicates that there is a difference at the end of the first year of college grade point average (GPA) between those students who took any remedial math courses and those who did not. There is a relationship between the percentage of remedial math courses passed and the first year of college GPA as indicated by the study.

Table Of Contents

List Of Tables………………………………………………………………… x

Chapter I:

Introduction …………………………………………….……. 1 Introduction to the Problem …………………………………………… 1 Conc eptual Framework ……………………………………………….. 2 Statement o f the Problem ……………………………………………... 4 Purpose of the S tudy ……………………………………………….… 6 Ra tionale ……………………………………………………………… 8 Resear ch Questions …………………………………………………… 9 Significance of the Study ……………………………………………… 11 Definiti ons of Terms ………………………………………………….. 14 Lim itations ……………………………………………………………. 17 Summary ……………………………………………………………… 18 Chapter II:

Review of Relevant Literature …………………………………… 19 Historic al Development ………………………………………………. 20 Developmental Education in Perspective …………………………….. 22 Preparedness and Attitudes …………………………………………… 24 Self - Regula ted Learning ……………………………………… ………. 28 Perceptions About Remediation ………………………………………. 32 Remedial M ath Dilemma ……………………………………………… 34 Placement into Developme ntal Education Programs …………………. 40 Parti cipation in Re medial Mathematics ………………………………. 42 Summary ……………………………………………………………… 44 Chapter III:

Methodology …………………………………………………….. 45

Design of Study …………………………………………………………. 45 Targe t Population ……………………………………………………… 47 Sampling Procedures …………………………………………………... 49

ix

Course Descriptions …………………………………………………… 49 Ins trumentation ………………………………………………………… 51 Data Collection and Recording Procedures ……………………..…...... 51 Data Analysis and Reporting Procedures …………………………….. 52 Summary ……………………………………………………………… 55 Ch apter IV:

Results

…………………………………………………………… 56 Chapter V:

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations …………………. 66 C onclusions …………………………………………………………… 72 Rec ommendations …………………………………………….………. 72 Appe ndix A:

MAT 098 Syllabus ………………………………………………. 74 Appe ndix B:

M AT 099 Syllabus ………………………………………………. 77 Appe ndix C:

MAT 100 Syllabus ………………………………………………. 82 References ………………………………………………………………………… 83

x

List Of Tables

Table 1

Remedial Courses Recommended versus Not Recommended……. 57

Table 2

Recommended Students

Passing at Least One Remedial Course

Versus Those Not Passing ………………………………………… 58 Table 3

Number of Remedial Courses Passed …………………………….. 58 Table 4

End of first Year of College GPA for Students Who Take or

Do Not Take College Remedial Math Courses i n the first Year…

59 Table 5

End of High School GPA for Students Taking or Not Taking

Any Remedial Math Courses ……………………………………… 60 Table 6

Number of Semesters Retained for Recommended Students

Taking Remedial Math Courses versus Recommended

Students Not Taking Remedial Math Courses …………………… 61 Table 7

Differences in High School GPA Between Students Who

Were Recommended and Took versus Those Recommended

Who Did Not Take Any Remedial Math Courses ………………… 62 Table 8

College GPA of Students Who Were R ecommended and

Took Any Remedial Math Course and Those Who Were

Recommended But Did Not Take Any Remedial Math Course ….. 63

Table 9

Remedial Courses Passed and College GPA ……………………… 64 Table 10

Family Income and Number of Semesters Retained……………… 65

1

Chapter

1: Introduction

Introduction to the Problem

Student success and readiness are important factors for student retention in academia. At the tertiary level, students are required to demonstrate mastery of all courses in order to successfully comple te a degree program. Many colleges and universities are faced with the dilemma of accepting students who are underprepared in an effort to boost student enrollment and profitability. The term underprepared college students

usually refer s t o students who la ck the basic skills required for success in college - level academics (Arendale , 2007) . In 2007, over 70% of students entering community college s

enrolled in developmental math (Biswas, 2007; Brown & Niemi, 2007). With the thrust to increase the position of the United States in the global economy, more educational

programs are

being

designed to attract all types of students by offering opportunities to succeed.

In an effort to deal with the problem of underprepared students entering colleges and universiti es, developmental or remedial courses are being offered to help students in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. U nder prepared students are those students who enter colleges and universities and require remediation in the areas of reading, Engl ish, and mathematic precollegiate skills (Calcagno & Long, 2008). These courses are usually

either non credit courses

or c ourses that do not count toward graduation and are designed to serve

as

catalyst s for

success in courses that contribute credits toward the completion of a degree program. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2005), 72.6% of all degree - granting institutions offer remedial services to students. Many institutions have implemented specific programs to target

2

academicall y under prepared students who attend college (Ting, 1997). “The task of developmental education is especially difficult, and unrelenting attention to improvement is essential” (McCabe, 2003, p. 39). This task is difficult because of the inc rease in

students

enrolling in universities

who

require the remedial courses

necessary for success.

This topic of under prepared students has sparked much attention and is the cause of much concern among administrators of colleges and universities. With more than a quarter of all incoming freshmen enrolled in developmental courses (N ational C enter for E ducation S tatistics , 2000) , there is a need to examine why these students are underprepared and to determine what is the most effective way of providing assistance to these s tudents. Lake (2002) stated that these students all have “common threads which include a fear of failure, poor self - esteem, concerns about ability to succeed academically, and an apprehension about education” (p. 7). This might be the reason why in 2004 and 2005, 72.6% of all institutions offer ed remedial services ( N ational C enter for E ducation S tatistics , 2005 ). This figure is alarming since it is

the expectation of colleges and universities

that the majority of students entering a tertiary - level instituti on should have

already acquired

certain basic skills . Remedial - and developmental - level courses should be a last resort and should be reserved for a small percentage of students rather tha n the majority of students . Conceptual Framework

Developmental educa tion has often borrowed theories from other fields to apply to its students. According to Brookfield (2005), theories are useful because they not only explain ideas but they also attempt to show how things m ay be improved. Brookfield further indicates tha t theories attempt to explain or to make sense of what individuals

3

observe or experience. It is important to note that no one theory is so comprehensive that it captures or explains all aspects of student development and student success. With this in mind, it is imperative that one look at several theories, incorporating ideas from each one, to formulate an overall idea of what factors contribute to student success. Since student success is something that is unique to the student and to his or her environme nt, it is difficult to find a theory that can be used to describe the experience s of an individual. That is why it is important to look at a variety of theories to see how each variable a pplies

to individual students.

Tinto (1997) posit s that various indi vidual characteristics that students possess as they enter college directly influence their departure decisions and their initial commitment to the goal of graduation. Tinto further postulates

that academic integration consists of structural and normative dimensions. Normative integration looks at the individual’s identification with the normative structure of the academic system, while structural integration focuses on meeting the explicit standards of the institution. Perry ( 1970)

developed his ethical an d intellectual theory in an effort to assist developmental educators’ work with students. The theory allows educators to understand where students stand academically when they enter college. Perry suggests that most students adopt a dualistic perspective w ith r egard to college but that the role of the educator is to move students beyond this point toward more critical thinking, which is revered as a cornerstone of higher learning.

Another very important student development theory is the seven vectors of st udent development theory. According to Chickering and Reisser (1993), the seven vectors are achieving competence, managing emotions, developing autonomy,

4

establishing identity, freeing interpersonal relationships, clarifying purpose, and developing integri ty. This theory takes a holistic perspective to the student and attempts

to clarify questions that faculty and staff may have as they seek to understand how student s change and develop. A

review of these vectors revealed the importance of exploring all asp ects of the individual when looking at development to ensure that faculty and staff are able to capture the whole picture and not just a s nap shot. The relationship between students and institutions of higher learning has evolved within the context of prev ailing societal needs. As the needs of society have change d, so have the requirements for successful completion of a course of study in higher education. Colleges and universities have been educating underprepared students who would have otherwise be en

rej ected by society, preparing them for employment and personal advancement (McCabe, 2003). Although not specifically referred to as developmental education, the student - institution relationship throughout American history clearly illustrates a commitment to developing

learners (Boylan , 2001).

Statement of the Problem

There is the belief that the number of students who leave high school unprepared for college is high and will continue to increase

with time if appropriate interventions

at the high school level

are not implemented speedily . Institutions of higher learning are

forced to make provisions for these students who apply for admission but are not academically prepared to complete the type of work that is required at this level.

These potential freshmen would have satisfied some of the requirements that the universities have established for entry but are found to be lacking basic skills in reading, writing, or

mathematics. As school districts across the nation seek to address the issues of low GPA,

5

low st andardized test scores,

low graduation rates, and under preparedness for tertiary - level courses, these colleges and universiti es are forced to offer remedial services to help

students in order to get them ready for higher education. “Social, demographic, a nd educational factors will swell the population of underprepared students entering higher education for at least the next two decades” ( Roueche & Roueche, 1999, p. 7). This is clearly the case across the nation and is evident in both public and private in stitutions.

There are some students

who attend college for one or two semesters and then drop out, putting a financial burden on the institution as well as themselves.

Maxwell

(1979) reports

that many freshmen are unsuccessful because they either enter c o llege academically

weak or fail

to take college preparatory courses. As a result of this

unpreparedness , institutions of higher learning are forced to design remedial courses to help prepare students for skills that they are expected to already possess. Th e remedial course is “a class or activity intended to meet the needs of students who initially do not have the skills, experience, or orientation necessary to perform at a level that the institution or instructor recognizes as ‘regular’ or college - level in struction” (Grubb & Webb, 1999, p. 74). The need for such classes only arise s

because of the deficiencies of students entering colleges and univer sities.

Le vine and Cureton (1998) reports that students are coming to college with even less preparation tha n before. Levine and Cureton also stated that there was an “increase within the last decade in the proportion of students requiring remedial or developmental education at two year (81 percent) and four year (64 percent) colleges” (p. 128). Due to this incr ease, many institutions of higher learning are faced with the task of providing non credit courses that students must successfully complete as a prerequisite for college -

6

level courses that give them credits t oward

thei r GPA. Levine and Cureton further indic ated that there was a 32 % increase in freshmen taking remedial courses in mathematics, reading, or writing. From the above information, it can be concluded that educating underprepared students affects a significant number of college students as well as th e postsecondary curriculum.

Most placement testing instruments are imperfect for assessing student strengths and weaknesses (Kirst, 1997). Students have

claimed that they could achieve higher placement if they were provided with a list of topics to review (Ruiz, 2007). This claim

suggests that if the students received the li st of topics to review before ta king the placement tests prior to entering universities , then they would have a better chance of passing and not be required to do remedial courses. If the students pass the placement tests that universities and colleges administer prior to entry , then there is the possibility of fewer students being recommended to do remedial courses. Virtually no attention has been devoted to identifying specific defici encies and integrating targeted remediation into the assessment placement process to improve placement outcomes and

to

reduce the rate of remediation

(Biswas, 2007).

Purpose of the Study

There are many factors , such as high school GPA, motivation, persi st ence, student attitude toward studying , and college GPA , that contribute to the success of students in college (McNeeley, 2008) . Although these factors vary by student, ethnicity, geographic location, cultural background, and financial standing, there has been an increase in the percentage of freshmen who we re required to take

remedial courses

or some form of remedial course work . Identifying the needs of students as early as possible will help

7

universities to devise a n individualized plan of action that wil l provide students with skills that should have been acquired before entering the university (McNeeley, 2008) . It is not possible to say with any certainty that remedial courses are largely responsible for success among all underprepared students , but the skills are very valuable if taught with fidelity.

A major purpose of this study i s to explore the differences in grade point average (GPA) for those students who took at least one

remedial

math course and those students who did not take any at a private university in S outh Florida. The study examines

GPA and retention patterns in relation to recommendations by the school for students to take remedial courses . The study further examines

the relationship between the percentage of remedial courses

passed and end of the first

year of

college GPA as well as explores

the relationship be tween family income and the number of

semesters

students we re re tained. The researcher also seeks

to determine whether students who took the remedial courses recomm ended to them by the university had GPAs equivalent to those who did not take courses recommended and whether their GPAs remained the same at the end of one year after taking the courses.

This quantitative study

examine s

the relationship between GPA and the successful co mpletion of one or more remedial courses . A quantitative methodology best met the needs and the purpose of the research study as it allowed investigation of the relationship between targeted math remediation, the independent variable, and student outcomes, the dependent variable (Larson & Farber, 2003). T he quantitative methodology

also explore s

the

relationship between GPA and the successful completion of the first and second semesters in college. The 2007 student data w ere collected at

a private universi ty in

8

Florida and were an alyzed to see if the above questions could be accurately answered. The results of this study should help the university to examine the requirements for students who are considered to be underprepared. This result should also help t he university’s administration to better understand the impact of remediation on student academic

succ ess and retention . The data that w ere collected accounted for

variables such as student status (international versus noninternational), gender, ethnicity, and age . The data spans over one

academic ye ar but the study was conducted four

years after the students entered the university so that follow - up researchers could use the data from this study as a baseline prior to the university's intensifying efforts at student remediation . Rationale

In academia , in the 21 st

century,

accountability is paramount at all levels. In addition to accountability, a popular term

that is echoed by institutions is differentiated instruction ,

because educational leaders have re cognized that all students do not learn the same way and at the same pace. Differentiated instruction seeks to identify the academic needs of individual students and to provide the level of instruction required to assist the student

in learning at a pace w here he or she

can demonstrate growth and ultimate proficiency. Although students at the tertiary level are expected to know their learning style and are held responsible for achieving the necessary requirements, it is important to create the environment f or all students to be successful. It is obvious that high school GPA and scholastic aptitude test ( SAT ) or american college test ( ACT )

scores are not necessarily absolute indicators of student potential and success.

This study was

conducted because it is important for institutions of higher learning to provide some kind of equity among

students. It is imperative to identify

9

students who

may

have some

academic deficiencies upon entry to a

university and provide those students

with

the necessary skills

to co mplete courses at this level. There has been some research on how to predict student success and the relationship among GPA, SAT scores, and retention. This study

assess es the relationship between GPA and remedial math courses at a private universi ty in Fl orida to see how the university

prepares under prepared students with low high school GPA for college - level courses . This study should contribute to new learning by providing educational leaders with a better understanding of how developmental or remedial e ducation, though considered to have a negative connotation by many, can be instrumental to student success. T his study should ultimately help to prevent student d rop out a s well as to help students to complete their course s

of study in the initially prescribed time frame.

Numerous studies have been conducted in the past to examine developmental instruction, self - regulation, and motivation of students in post secondary institutions , but the researcher s ’

findings reveal ed

that only limited and inconsistent emp irical research exists on developmental mathematics and mathematics competency. This

current study

should provide insight into the success of st udents enrolled in remedial

mathematics at the university

and should help to address the overall gap in th e lite rature on remediation in mathematics at the p ost secondary level.

Research Questions

The questions to be explored in this study are:

Resear ch q uestion

1 . Is there a difference at the end of the first

year of college

grade point a verage (GPA) between those students who took any remedial

math course s and those who did not take any remedial

math course s ?

10

Research q uestion

2 . Is there a difference in high school grade point a verage (GPA) between those students who took any remedial math course s and those who di d not?

Research q uestion

3 . Is there a difference in the number of semesters the students were retained between those students who were recommended to take any remedial

math course s and took at least one and those recommended to take any remedial

math cou rse s and did not take at least one?

Research Question

4 . Is there a difference in high school grade point average (GPA) between students who were recommend ed to take any remedial math

course s and took at least one and those students who were recommended to

take them but did not take any?

Research Question

5 . Is there a difference in first

year of college grade point average (GPA) between students who were recommended to take any remedial math course s and took them and those students who were recommended to take any remedial

math course s but did not take a ny ?

Research Question

6 . Is there a relationship between the percentage of remedial courses

pas sed and the first

year of college GPA for those student s who took any remedial courses ?

Research Question

7 . Is there a relationship between family income

of the students recommended to take remedial courses

and the

number of semesters that the students were retained?

11

Significance of the Study

This study will help educational leaders to gain a better understandin g of the value of developmental courses in preparing students for c ollege - level courses. In particular, this study should contribute to the u niversity’s capa bility to accurately assess and

align the remedial courses

to effectively meet the needs of the stu dents who apply but

who are not fully prepared for c ollege - level courses. A student’s performance on a placement assessment is not totally indicative of what he or she is able to do. A comprehen sive examination of developmental students should help instruc tors to target certain key factors which would help identify remediation needs and once remediation is implemented, help to determine the impact on GPA. The results of this examination

should help t he instructors to understand the differences between those students who were required to take a developmental course and those who were not required to do so. This knowledge should also help administrators to understand factors that contribute to retention and student success. According to M cCabe (2003), educatio nal leaders have an obligation to ensure that students are successful and, for many, this is a goal that can only be achieved through quality developmental education. McCabe purport ed

that the strength of higher education is in its commitment to providing numerous chances to acquire needed knowledge and skills. These chances can only be realized when institutions provide courses such as remedial math

that specifically target areas of weakness and offer support to improve

performance or

to

eradicate these deficiencies.

Further examination of the literature r evealed

several issues and raise d questions as to the need for such a study. A review of McNeeley’s (2008) study led the researcher

to ask some questions about the state of remediation at the post secondar y level.

12

McNeeley

examined a number of variables and their relationship to student academic success. Independent variables McNeeley

studied included high school grade point average, total family income, and the total number of developmental courses the student took in the first semester at the university. The dependent variable stud ied was initially intended to apply to the first -

semester grade point average at the university. It appear ed that McNeeley converted the interval scale dependent variable of fir st - semester grade point average at the university ( c ollege GPA) to a dichotomous variable (s uccessful equaled GPA of

at least 1.75 and unsuccessful equaled GPA less than 1.75). In doing such a transformation, McNeeley restricted the range of GPA scores to only two options (successful v ersus unsuccessful).

McNeeley

(2008)

asked a number of research questions that were designed to examine correlations . T he transformation of the dependent variable to a dichotomous variable allowed fo r

statistical analyses tha t use

regressional statistics which allowed for prediction of group membership and limited to two groups (i.e ., l ogistic reg ression). No correlational statistical methods

were

designed to measure relationships between interval scale variables across the fu ll range of c ollege GPA scores. Addit i onally, a 2.0 GPA is typic ally used as a cutscore for acad emic success rather than the 1.75 GPA used by McNeeley .

McNeeley’s (2008)

first research question examine d if there was

a relationship between high school GPA and developmental student success in the

first semester of c ollege

using a logistic regression by restricting the range of GPA scores to successful v ersu s unsuccessful. Since McNeeley did not report a correlation, but reported a

13

significant mean differenc e in high school GPA between successful

and unsuccessful students, the correlation between high school GPA and end of first

semester of college GPA is unknown. To improve upon and to

answer McNeeley’s (2008) study , the relationship between first - year colle ge GPA and high school GPA was

examined

in this study . Second, McNeeley e xamined if there

was

a relationship between ACT/SAT scores and develo pmental student success in the

first semester of c ollege.

McNeeley also ran six logistic regressions by restrictin g the range of GPA scores to successful v ersu s unsuccessful , and found

that only S AT verbal and quantitative

scores were

predictive of student success . Again, such an analysis did not answer McNeeley’s

research question.

However, the current research is not concerned with investigating the relationship among ACT/SAT and student success. Regarding the question, “Is there a relationship between high school GPA, ACT/SAT composite scores and first semester GPA?”, McNeeley found only weak correlations among 5 se ts of correlations so these

variables

were not investigated .

Finally, in examin in g , “Do gender, socioeconomic status, ACT/SAT verbal or quantitative scores, and the number of developmental courses taken during the first semester allow for a more accurate prediction of success when used with ACT/SAT and high school GPA?”, McNeeley (2008) ran a multiple regression modeling technique and found the model that explained the most variability in first -

Full document contains 103 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to explore the differences in grade point average (GPA) between students who took at least one remedial math course and those students who did not take any at a private university in South Florida. The study examines GPA and retention patterns in relation to recommendations by the school for students to take remedial courses. The study further examined the relationship between the percentage of remedial courses passed and end of the first year of college GPA, and explores the relationship between family income and how many semesters students were retained. The researcher seeks to determine if all students who took remedial courses following recommendations had equivalent high school GPAs and whether they remained the same or differed after one year of college from those students who failed to take remedial courses after being advised to do so. This quantitative study further enriches the body of literature by providing insight into the impact of participating in remedial math courses on college GPA and student retention. The study also provides information on the relationship between family income and semesters retained. The study reveals that 71% of the students who were recommended to take remedial courses successfully completed one or more such courses. The study also indicates that there is a difference at the end of the first year of college grade point average (GPA) between those students who took any remedial math courses and those who did not. There is a relationship between the percentage of remedial math courses passed and the first year of college GPA as indicated by the study.