Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Fincher, Mark E.

Committee Member

King, Stephanie B.

Committee Member

Johnson, Susan M.

Committee Member

Coats, Linda T.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 3 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community College Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Leadership and Foundations


Community college instructors continue to search for effective instructional methods that promote student success in developmental mathematics courses such as intermediate algebra. According to research, mathematics is a major obstacle for students succeeding, persisting, and completing community college programs. Each student enrolled in intermediate algebra has an ACT sub-score of 16 to 18 or an ACCUPLACER sub-score of 57 to 75. Most community colleges in Mississippi use placement testing to determine the strengths and needs of students. However, students approach math with high anxiety, more than any other areas, which interferes with their learning. Research indicates that to improve students’ success and retention in developmental mathematics, instructors must successfully promote active learning, which utilizes a variety of teaching techniques to incorporate various learning styles, methods, and initiatives. The purpose of this study is to determine which instructional method (traditional lecture, traditional lecture with lab, or online instruction) best tailors or supports student performance in intermediate algebra. Final letter grades for the semesters from fall 2014 to spring 2016 and beginning and ending enrollments for each intermediate algebra class at 2 community colleges in the state of Mississippi were analyzed, yielding for a quantitative research study. According to the study, 80% of the students completed intermediate algebra with a grade C or higher in the traditional lecture with lab courses, while 64% of the students completed intermediate algebra with a C or higher in the traditional lecture courses, and 50% of the students completed intermediate algebra with a C or higher in the online courses. However, more students were retained in the traditional lecture courses (retention rate of 83%). Therefore, this study supports and recommends the importance of instructional lecture courses in developmental algebra classrooms. Developmental algebra courses need to be “instructor-taught” courses. Instructors need to demonstrate and explain the mathematical process for solving problems while implementing active learning.



instructional methods||intermediate algebra