An exploratory investigation of the beliefs, behaviors, and performance of women in college algebra in a rural community college
Hill, Bobbie Jo Zowarka
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Women are the majority of students in colleges and universities at the present time, but the increase in number of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields is not keeping up with the projected need of the 21st century (Halpern et al., 2007). The purpose of this study was to recognize and describe the math beliefs, math behaviors, and performance of women in college algebra in a rural community college. The theoretical foundations of this study were the socio-cognitive theory of Bandura (1982), the socio-cultural theory of Vygotsky (1930-34, 1978), and the attribution theory of Weiner (1979) merged with the research of Hendy, Schorschinsky and Wade (2014). This quantitative study used a correlational design to determine if a significant correlation existed between the math beliefs, math behaviors, and performance in college algebra. One hundred seven women enrolled in college algebra in a rural community college during fall semester of 2015 participated in the study. A survey of 40 short answer and Likert scale questions was used to study the math beliefs of the women, and semester grades, attendance, homework average, and hours used in tutoring were collected from college records. No significant correlations were found between math beliefs and performance in college algebra. There was a significant correlation between the math behavior, homework, and performance. Significant correlations were found among math beliefs, between math beliefs and math behaviors, and between math beliefs and demographics profiling women who are successful in college algebra. Identifying the beliefs and behaviors of women in college algebra and expanding on the findings in colleges and universities may provide support for successful degree completion in the STEM fields. Identifying the needs of women can serve as a pathway to college success.