Community college remedial algebra: The search for an alternative

Date created: 
Community college
Design-based research
Mathematics education
Realistic Mathematics Education
Task design
Teaching experiment

This dissertation is an attempt to add to the research on community college mathematics education, and to examine one way in which content delivery might be adapted from other levels to teach community college remedial mathematics courses. In order to address these issues, I adapted the idea of Design-Based Research and the Teaching Experiment to an entire class of students in order to examine whether Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) would be adaptable to the community college environment. I produced activities that would highlight the concepts students in the class were required to learn but delivered them as a fantasy narrative using the principles of RME. I analyzed student submissions from the tasks embedded in these activities to determine whether RME had been a successful means by which to deliver the content and found not only that students had learned as much by this delivery method as by lecture, but that they had developed a sense of meaning from the mathematics in the process. These results suggest not only that methods designed for one population can effectively be used for others, but that community college students will be at least as successful under such a modified model. While teachers have always modified the work of others for their own purposes, the results of the research done for this dissertation support the idea that such modification is appropriate and effective; more specifically, it suggests that the time and effort required to modify methods for use in alternative environments is worth the sacrifice, and I would recommend that instructors at every level explore the myriad ways by which content can be delivered.

Document type: 
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Rina Zazkis
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.