Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Barbara Salice

Abstract

Project Independence (PI) is a community college immersion program dedicated to assisting women returning to college. The focus of this study and associated summative evaluation was to understand how the PI program addresses anxiety and other learning deficiencies associated with math. Knowle's andragogical models portray adults as motivated and self-directed, and the American college campus fosters a culture of independence. This culture is foreign to many minority, first-generation, and working class adults who learn through interdependence. This qualitative instrumental case study and evaluation is the first to examine the efficacy of PI. The guiding questions of this study concern early math learning experiences, PI interventions on study, coping and math-learning skills, and how participants utilize these skills in subsequent math classes. Three faculty members and 8 graduates of the program who had completed at least 2 math classes participated in individual interviews. Inductive analysis of these interviews showed the cohort and long term counseling as pivotal to developing a sense of belonging, self-esteem, and an attitude of self-worth. With cohort support, students learn to find campus resources, explore career options, and overcome personal obstacles to their education. Improved math learning for adult minority and first generation students has diverse implications for social change. Math education is requisite for many technical degrees and certificates. Enabling math learning expands options that transcend gender, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers. The cohort experience and culture of interdependence should be expanded to college preparation programs for men, as well as mainstream community college math preparation interventions.