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The Effects of a Mathematical Literacy Course on Attitudes Toward Mathematics: A Community College Study

Ndiaye, Serine

As the high failure rate in developmental mathematics remains a national concern (Bonham et al., 2011), community colleges have begun experimenting with alternative delivery and design for remedial mathematics sequences. One approach was to implement mathematical literacy in their program, focusing on quantitative reasoning. Mathematical Literacy is an individual’s ability to formulate situations and reason mathematically, employ mathematical tools, concepts and procedures as well as to explain, apply and evaluate mathematical results (OECD, 2017).
The intent of this study was to observe and evaluate learner attitudes regarding mathematics in a community college mathematical literacy course.
Two groups of students from two different courses were part of the study; one group was in a mathematical literacy course and another group in an elementary algebra course.
To measure students’ growth in self-confidence and in the perceived value and usefulness of mathematics, quantitative data were collected with an anonymous pre- and post-mathematics attitudes survey from the mathematical literacy course and the elementary algebra course. In addition, qualitative data were gathered with an open-ended question administered to participants in the mathematical literacy sections during the last week of the semester to offer richer insights into the findings from the attitude survey.
Findings from the quantitative data revealed statistically significant effects for participants in the mathematical literacy course compared to their counterparts in the elementary algebra course in the area of attitudes regarding the perceived value and usefulness of mathematics, real-world problems, working in groups, as well as using computers in mathematics courses. Qualitative data were aligned with the findings from the quantitative data and indicated participants’ positive views on working in groups, the usefulness of the mathematical literacy course, and improvement of their attitudes regarding mathematics thanks to the course. The study suggested further research to improve our understandings of mathematical literacy and its impact.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2021-02-25.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Thesis Advisors
Smith, J. Philip
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
March 1, 2019