This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Comparing the Effectiveness of Reform Pedagogy to Traditional Didactic Lecture Methods in Teaching Remedial Mathematics at Four-Year Universities




Smith, Luke

Type of Degree



Curriculum and Teaching


Postsecondary remedial mathematics courses often have relatively low pass rates compared to other courses (Bahr, 2008; Virginia College Community System, 2011) and have contributed to the view that mathematics is a gatekeeper for college success (Epper & Baker, 2009). This study addressed this situation by exploring recommendations made by various organizations including the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (2009, 2006, 2000, 1989), the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) (2006), and the Mathematical Association of America’s Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (2011) to improve student learning in mathematics courses through various pedagogical techniques; in this study, the pedagogical practices advocated by these organizations are collectively referred to as “reform mathematics.” The study was conducted at a mid-sized university in the southern United States. A quasi-experimental design was used to investigate the effectiveness of incorporating reform mathematics practices as compared to didactic lecture techniques in improving student success in remedial mathematics courses. Student success was measured in terms of pass rates, procedural ability, application ability, and change in mathematical self-efficacy. Repeated Measures ANOVAs, t-tests, and Fisher Exact tests were used to determine if the treatment had an effect on student achievement variables. Additionally, qualitative data were also gathered from students who were enrolled in the reform-oriented course to examine their perceptions of key aspects of reform mathematics instruction. While the results were not statistically significant, the trends within the data suggest that students may benefit from reform-oriented instruction.