Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

William Young, Ed.D.

Keywords

College algebra, Learning preferences, Math pedagogy, Retention, Junior colleges, Preparatory math, Remediation

Abstract

Four out of five Americans will require some postsecondary education. Therefore, a majority of population will return to a community college for retraining and personal growth (McCabe, 2003). Since the turn of this century, many studies have been conducted to examine the success and challenges of the relatively new community college system. One of the most significant challenges is the large percentage of the U.S. population requiring remedial coursework. Fifty-five percent of students entering Florida's postsecondary system require remediation. Of this large remedial population, only 51% will complete their preparatory classes. Students who do complete classes take an average of two years to finish preparatory classes and move on to college-level work. It is hypothesized that learning styles information will empower students with knowledge about their study habits and positively effect academic achievement. This research first examined the quantitative effect that learning styles information had on student achievement. The second qualitative phase of the study examined students' perceptions of learning styles information. Three Introductory Algebra (MAT 0024) courses at a large suburban community college were intensively studied during one spring semester. Due to the size of the study (N=69), results obtained in the quantitative portion were not significant enough to accept the hypotheses.

Responses in focus groups showed that students generally felt that learning styles information was useful and half the class used the information to modify how they studied. Half of the students in the control group modified their study habits in response to knowing more about their learning style. Although the qualitative data was supportive of the usefulness of learning styles information in the classroom the quantitative data did not support the hypotheses that learning styles information improves achievement.

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