Statistical Methods to Determine Factors that Correlate with Success in College Algebra

Jessica A Wilson, Tennessee State University


This research explores many elements that impact student success in college algebra. The participants in the study include students who enrolled in college algebra during the fall semesters of 2002-2004 at Tennessee State University. Included in the study were one thousand nine hundred and thirty seven students. Many variables were considered including: gender, race, traditional/non-traditional student status, whether or not a student enrolled in remedial/developmental courses, the semester and year they took the R/D course, developmental grade, time of enrollment into college algebra (after taking the R/D course), ACT/SAT comprehensive score, ACT/SAT mathematics score, pretest score, final exam score, and final grade in college algebra. Descriptive statistics, correlation coefficient, one-way ANOVA, t-test, means, crosstabulations, chi-square test, and linear regression analysis were all used to determine the outcome of the data. The result indicates the more successful a student is on the ACT, especially the mathematics portion of the exam, the more likely they are to be successful on the final exam, and in the college algebra course. Those students having enrolled immediately into college algebra after taking the remedial/developmental course did better on the final exam, and were more likely to be successful in the college algebra course, in comparison to those that waited. In an evaluation of the students who took remedial/developmental courses and having earned a C or better for the course, only 30% of these students obtained a grade of C or better in college algebra. Also, of the students who earned a grade of C in the developmental course, 50% of them earned a grade of F in college algebra. Finally, students identified as white and those categorized as other (according to TSU regulations), have the tendency to perform significantly better on the final exam than black students. In making adjustments in grade level mathematics courses, remedial/developmental mathematics, and in focusing on minority students we will potentially alter many students future earning potential, and furthermore positively impact society.

Subject Area

Mathematics education|Applied Mathematics|Statistics

Recommended Citation

Jessica A Wilson, "Statistical Methods to Determine Factors that Correlate with Success in College Algebra" (2011). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI1492310.