Date of Award
Dissertation - NSU Access Only
Doctor of Education
Center for the Advancement of Education
The purpose of this study was to develop a revised and expanded program in developmental mathematics for Prince George's Community College in Largo, MD. This study addressed several concerns of the department: (1) the lesser effectiveness of self-paced instruction; (2) the attitudes and perceptions of developmental students toward mathematics; (3) the high failure rate for the program; (4) the increasing numbers of skill-deficient students, particularly nontraditional students; and (5) the use of staff development. The procedures for the study involved the use of a faculty survey, a student survey, interviews with key administrators, interviews at other institutions, and a review of related literature. The faculty surveys contained ten items which addressed each of the concerns of the department. The surveys were completed by three full time instructors and nine part-time instructors. Interviews with key administrators explored in more detail the items on the survey. Interviews were conducted at three local community colleges to determine how other institutions were addressing the problems facing developmental mathematics programs. In addition, a review of literature was conducted pertaining to self-paced programs, improving developmental mathematics instruction, students' attitudes and perceptions toward mathematics, reducing students' failure rates, nontraditional students, and staff development. During the spring semester of 1990, a three member developmental task force was formed to review the finding of the study and to make recommendations that would revise and expand the program to address its concerns. Based on the analysis of faculty surveys and interviews with key administrators, it was recommended that the self-paced program be revised, not replaced with another alternative program. Recommended revisions to the self-paced program included the use of a student completion form to reduce student procrastination, the addition of an instructional aide, the voluntary use of group on team-assisted instruction, and a reduction in the maximum enrollment size in self-paced courses. A twelve-item survey, using a Likert-type scale, was administered to 350 developmental mathematics students and 450 college-level mathematics students to determine if there was a significant difference in the attitudes and perceptions toward mathematics of the two groups. Returned, usable surveys included responses from 314 developmental students and 386 college-level students. A two sample t-test statistic was used to test the difference between the mean survey scores for the two groups. The t-test calculations for the two groups yielded a t-value of 21.48 which was significant at the .05 level. Recommendations to assist developmental students with negative attitudes and perceptions toward mathematics included the development of an instrument, MAP inventory, to identify these students and a proposal for counselor intervention. Among the other recommendations were the use of an instructor telephone log to reduce student absenteeism and the development of guidelines implementing an annual staff development program. A faculty assessment form was recommended to assess the needs, interests, and concerns of the faculty in planning objectives for future staff development. An initial staff development workshop was held at the end of the spring semester to familiarize faculty with the revisions and expansions to the existing program as well as to explore additional strategies to improve overall instruction in developmental mathematics. The developmental task force will oversee the implementation of the revisions and expansions, and evaluate the effectiveness of the changes. The results of the study were shared with the Dean of Educational Development and the Chairman of Developmental Studies. Reports of the task force's ongoing effects will also be made to these key administrators.