Community College Students' Perceptions of Developmental Mathematics and Influences on Persistence

Sumithra S. Iyer, Walden University

Abstract

The increase in the dropout rates associated with developmental mathematics classes in 1 Texas community college provoked the need for this study. The purpose of this case study was to explore students' reasons for dropping out of developmental mathematics and what might have helped them be successful. Tinto's model of student attrition, which is characterized by students' social and academic integration affecting their retention in the college, provided the conceptual framework for the study. The research questions addressed the students' perceptions of both why they dropped out of developmental mathematics courses and what might have helped them to successfully complete those courses. A purposeful sampling process was used to select 7 developmental mathematics students who did not complete the course. Data were collected through semistructured interviews from 7 developmental mathematics students. Emergent themes were identified through open coding, and the findings were developed and reviewed for trustworthiness through member checking, rich descriptions, and a code-recode process. Findings revealed that students needed help in acquiring a better understanding of the subject, in adapting to different teaching methods, and in finding available resources. A professional development training for mathematics instructors was created to share the why students drop out of developmental mathematics and to provide suggestions for improved teaching practices. Results from this study may lead to the positive social change by providing teachers with successful developmental mathematics strategies to improve student performance.