Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Co-chair

David R. Erickson, James J. Hirstein

Commitee Members

Georgia A. Cobbs, Scott R. Hohnstein, Deborah Sloan


community colleges, developmental mathematics, student success


University of Montana


Poor success rates of developmental mathematics courses at community colleges have currently received nationwide attention. Efforts to remedy the situation include complete course redesigns and intervention strategies. A recent intervention strategy in use is the implementation of success courses that are aimed at changing the learning perspectives of developmental students. The purpose of this mixed-method comparative study was to closely examine this strategy as it relates specifically to students studying developmental mathematics at the lowest level at one community college. Students taking the lowest level developmental mathematics course at the participating community college were designated into one of two groups: those taking mathematics with the success course and those taking mathematics without a success course. The study explored students' perceptions and belief structures regarding the study of developmental mathematics and focused on identifying any changes in student belief structures over the course of one semester. Descriptive statistics regarding grade achievement of the population with the student success course provide insight into the possible benefits of the success course for developmental mathematics students. Participants in the study, starting out in the lowest mathematics course offered at the community college, need more mathematics in order to obtain a degree or certificate from the college. Rate of registration for the subsequent mathematics courses were also analyzed in the study.

Findings showed that the offering of a success course to students who are at-risk in developmental mathematics has made some improvements in the percentage of students who were able to satisfactorily complete the first level developmental mathematics course at one community college. It also showed that for students who did not pass the success course, there was a nearly one-to-one relationship with unsuccessful completion of a low-level mathematics course. Qualitative data helps explain how the two groups were quite different and also helps to explain findings.



© Copyright 2012 Brenda Catherine Frame