There is a stereotype of first-year college students about math and calculus: many believe those are incredibly difficult subjects and are preparing themselves for failure in the first semester. The reasons for such an assumption lay behind the general low progress in math studies at American schools and colleges. Math is not an easy subject. However, it gives an essential knowledge to future professionals. The study conducted by Linda Serra Hagedorn and other researchers addressed the complex problem of success in college mathematics and compared remedial and non-remedial first-year college students to find the differences between students which lead to low achievement level in math.
The study of success in college mathematics has depicted many factors which influence college students. Using the methods of testing, questionnaires, and evaluation based on multiple variables has allowed the researchers to come up to important conclusions concerning the differences between remedial and non-remedial first-year college students. The participants of the study were first-year college students from 23 different colleges and universities in 16 states around America.
There were males and females, minorities and non-minorities, remedial and non-remedial students evaluated upon many factors which influence their ability to study and lead to successful or unsuccessful results in college mathematics. The study has been based on many findings from the past and, consequently, concentrated on such factors as students’ gender, background, and surroundings, family conditions, success in high school. The study itself is broad and combines thorough step-by-step evaluation of the reasons which lead to students’ success in studies.
Moreover, the research is based on the information from the press, on ideas and conclusions of educational institutions such as Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency, and on the studies of Wieschenberg, Becker, Tarvis and Sax, and many other researchers.
The information in the research was gathered from students with the help of some questionnaires.
There has been the precollege data collection and follow-up testing which consisted of several steps: reading, math, critical thinking module, the College Student Experiences Questionnaire which has measured students’ involvement in college activities, and NCTLA Follow-up questionnaire which portrayed students’ interaction in the process of learning. The dependent variable of the research was the first-year math achievement. The independent variables which played a role in the evaluation include differences by gender, ethnicity, family income, parents’ education level, high school results, willingness to study, social surroundings, relationships between teachers and students. As a result, the conductors of the study were faced with different positions and situations depending on the above variables. The conclusions of the research draw attention, though most of them are logically distinct. So, the differences between remedial and non-remedial mathematics students have the following explanations: remedial students come from families with lower income, lower educational level, and have less desire to study in college while non-remedial students come from families with higher income, their parents are more educated, they study well at school, and have encouragement towards entering college. In addition, it appears that: the quality of education at schools with a number of minorities is poorer than in White high schools; remedial students study less in high school and get less encouragement from teachers; non-remedial students find the quality of instruction to be better; there is an overrepresentation of women and minorities in college remedial classes; higher income, non-minority status of non-remedial students led to higher levels of math achievement. And lastly, the study has raised the issues of education. It is possible to assume that the problem is hidden behind the lack of attention from the side of teachers and professors to students who might show good results.
In response to the study of first-year college students I would like to share that, first of all, the review is broad, realistic, and consistent. I do believe in its findings and agree with the conclusions.
Perhaps, the study should have concentrated more on the parameters which are possible to be improved: psychological influence. The issues which evolved from the results are significant; those are: raising attention to minorities and more mediocre students at schools. I believe that teachers are in power to improve the situation by encouraging more children for achieving better results.
Hagedorn, Linda Serra, and others. 1993. “Success in College Mathematics: Comparison between Remedial and Non-Remedial First-Year College Students”.
Snyder, Andy. 2005. “Freshman math-science rubric”. CES Change Lab.
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