A mixed methods study of a statistics pathway for

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A MIXED METHODS STUDY OF A STATISTICS PATHWAY FOR COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS PLACED INTO DEVELOPMENTAL MATHEMATICS

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of San Francisco State University In partial fulfillment of The Requirements for The Degree Doctor of Education In Educational Leadership

by Pamela Marie Mery San Francisco, California

December 2011

Copyright? by Pamela Marie Mery

2011

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My sincere gratitude goes to my advisor and chair, Dr. Helen Hyun, for her patience and steadfast encouragement. Many thanks to Dr. Uri Treisman whose broad knowledge and incisive questions immeasurably enriched this endeavor. Thanks as well to Dr. Barbara Illowsky for her interest in precision and for her confidence in me. And to Dr. Robert Gabriner with whom I first investigated mathematics success rates years ago, thank you for encouraging me to look deeper.

To my incredible spouse, Adrina Phipps, thank you for cheering me on, for keeping me focused, and for sustaining me throughout the entire process. To family, friends, and colleagues who supported me during this work: thank you. Special thanks go to my parents Milton and Helene Mery who taught me to value learning and service to community; to Drs. Leslie Minot, Theresa Tensuan-Eli, and Annette Daoud who showed me it could be done; and to Sensei Keiko Fukuda who taught me what it means to love your students.

Finally, to the anonymous instructor whose classroom is the subject of this study, your graciousness, vulnerability, and dedication constantly humbled and inspired me. And to the students who willingly shared their stories with me: thank you. This dissertation represents a small fraction of what I learned from you and what I carry forward with me.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................. ix

LIST OF FIGURES .................................................................................................x

LIST OF APPENDICES ....................................................................................... xi

Chapter One: Purpose of the Study..........................................................................1

Problem Statement .............................................................................................1 Research Objectives...........................................................................................5

Quantitative Hypotheses ..............................................................................5 Qualitative Propositions...............................................................................6 Conceptual Framework......................................................................................8 Key Constructs and Operational Definitions ...................................................13 Delimitations and Scope of the Study..............................................................15 Significance of the Study .................................................................................15 Conclusion .......................................................................................................17 Organization of the Dissertation ................................................................18

Chapter Two: Literature Review ...........................................................................19

Introduction......................................................................................................19 Scope and Search Criteria..........................................................................23 Structure of Review ...................................................................................25

Analysis of the Literature.................................................................................26 Math as Catalyst or Barrier ........................................................................26 The Climb to College-Level Math.............................................................29 Studies of Special Populations and Developmental Mathematics.............33 Improving Mathematics Success Rates in Community Colleges ..............36 Use of technology...............................................................................36 Supplemental instruction and tutoring ...............................................38 Structural changes to the sequence.....................................................40 Contextual learning approaches .........................................................42 Cultural relevance, social justice, and statistics .................................46 Learning Implications of Growth Mindset / Incrementalism ....................47

Conclusions and Needed Research ..................................................................52 Implications for Research ..........................................................................55

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