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For the last three decades, mathematics instructors have been searching for ways to reduce high student failure rates in college-level math courses. Several national organizations have declared a state of emergency in undergraduate teaching (Mathematical Association of America, 2015; National Science Foundation, 1996) and asked for the investigation of causes for high student failure rates in mathematics courses. The creation and implementation of successful strategies to increase success rates in mathematics courses requires understanding students’ mathematics background, conceptions of teaching and learning mathematics, and their expectations of college professors. This study investigated students’ perceived differences between their college and high school mathematics instruction. Eighty-four college algebra students were asked to write anonymously about their perceived differences and similarities between their high school and college mathematics instruction. Through the qualitative research methodology called grounded theory, students’ responses were analyzed to extract perceived differences between college and high school mathematics classes so that the knowledge could be used to communicate and to explore the meaning of those differences. The results showed the majority of students were struggling with making a smooth transition to their postsecondary education.


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  • Subject
    • Mathematics

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Author Biography:

      Christopher G. Serkan has graduate degrees in several disciplines. He teaches mathematics, statistics, and economics courses at UNG.