Community college developmental math redesign and its effect on student outcomes

Okimoto, Hae Kyung
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
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President Obama's Blueprint for Keeping College Affordable and Within Reach for All Americans (2012), includes challenges to improve American higher education outcomes. One outcome that has drawn national concern is the low four-and six-year graduation rates of undergraduate students entering the nation's colleges and universities. The number of students entering degree-granting institutions has increased over the past decade, but nearly half of the students are leaving without a degree. This is not a new concern, as researchers begin studying student retention processes in the mid-1970s. The open-door policy of community colleges presents added challenges, as many of the students are currently under-prepared for college level work, especially in mathematics. Achieving the Dream, an initiative to help community college students to succeed, suggests that over 70% of college students are not ready for college-level math. Although research is beginning to address student success in developmental course sequences within community colleges, passing rates generally remain low and the programs' impact on student retention is mixed at best. This study's purpose was to examine whether a curriculum redesign model could be applied to a developmental mathematics program in a community college setting to increase student success. More specifically, the study examined whether the redesigned developmental math (1) improved student performance in developmental courses so that more students passed, (2) increased student enrollment in subsequent developmental courses, and (3) increased student enrollment in college level mathematics courses. The research employed a regression discontinuity design, which represents a strong alternative approach for estimating treatment effects in the absence of random assignment of individuals to treatment and control groups by using a covariate (i.e., a math placement test) to assign students. Student enrollment patterns and course outcome information were collected on students enrolled in developmental math courses from the Spring 2010, Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 semesters. Findings indicated that the redesigned developmental math program had a positive impact on student achievement, with a greater percentage of students passing the redesigned developmental courses. In addition, more students enrolled in the subsequent developmental math course when they participated in the redesigned sequence. Finally, more students completing the redesigned sequence subsequently enrolled in college-level math than their peers in the traditionally-delivered math developmental courses. The results indicated that the particular redesigned developmental math curriculum investigated provides a process for applying the best practices of developmental math to create an educational environment for both academic and social integration--factors leading to successful student retention and persistence.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
curriculum design, math education, community college
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Education.
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