Date Available


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Year of Publication


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly D. Bradley

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth D. Royal


Online mathematics courses at Somerset Community College (SCC) have traditionally had a lower retention rate than their in-person counterparts. This study looked at online and in-person students at SCC in the courses Intermediate Algebra and College Algebra. Beginning of semester student demographics were considered to determine whether or not the online and in-person student populations were comparable. End of semester student demographics, retention rates, and grades on the final exams were examined to determine whether or not there were patterns among completer students. Finally, a survey was administered to students and instructors to determine their perceptions of several factors thought to influence student success and to determine areas of agreement and disagreement among these factors. Follow-up telephone interviews were given to instructors and students in order to identify areas that were not covered in the survey.

The results indicated that although online courses tended to attract older students, the online and in-person student groups were similar in terms of make-up. This was true both at the beginning and at the end of the semester. The in-person sections showed better results, both in terms of retention and grades on the final exams. The survey results were analyzed using Rasch analysis. This showed differences between students and instructors, most importantly in the areas of student self-efficacy behaviors and communication between instructor and student. These differences between students and instructors were generally exacerbated in the online sections indicating that these areas might have had an impact on the lower retention and grades of the online sections.