College Algebra Course Outcomes Among Nontraditional Community College Students

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Summer 2015


An increasing number of nontraditional students are enrolling in community colleges to achieve their educational and career goals. For many of these students, degree completion is contingent upon the successful completion of college algebra, a course that nearly 50% of enrolled students fail to complete successfully. Nontraditional students, who are more likely to be balancing school, work, and family responsibilities, are often enrolled part time and often rely on the flexibility of online classes. These students are also more likely to be referred to developmental mathematics prior to enrolling in college algebra. The purposes of this study were (a) to examine college algebra course outcomes among adult community college students to determine if differences exist between those who take the class live and those who take it online, (b) to determine if differences exist in college algebra course outcomes based on previous enrollment in developmental mathematics and, (c) to determine if differences exist in college algebra course outcomes based on part-time/full-time status. The study participants were community college algebra students age 25 and older. Volunteer participants were recruited from online and live college algebra students enrolled at a large rural community college in North Texas. Informed consent and relevant demographic data were collected through the use of a categorical response questionnaire administered during a 3-week period immediately following the midterm exam. Final course grades were provided by the cooperating community college???s mathematics department chairperson at the conclusion of the semester. A chi-square test of independence was used to analyze the data. No statistically significant relationships were identified between college course outcomes and course delivery format, previous enrollment in developmental mathematics, or enrollment status. Findings indicated, however, that a higher percentage of students were successful in the live sections than in the online sections. In addition, participants who had never been enrolled in developmental mathematics passed college algebra at a higher rate than those who had been enrolled in developmental mathematics. Finally, although no statistically significant relationship existed between course outcomes and part-time or full-time enrollment status, it was noted that part-time students were more likely to enroll in online sections than in live sections.


Joyce A. Scott

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Higher Education