Murray State Theses and Dissertations


There are a substantial number of studies that consider the effectiveness of online instructional methodologies in general, but there is sparse previous work specifically targeting developmental mathematics students in community colleges. This study examines the relative effectiveness of online versus traditionally delivered developmental mathematics courses at Somerset Community College (SCC) in Somerset, Kentucky. At SCC, developmental mathematics is divided into three consecutive courses, MAT 055, MAT 065, and MAT 085, and this study considered each of these courses separately.

For this study, each student enrollment in any of SCC’s developmental mathematics courses was obtained for students in the Fall 2011 through the Spring 2016 semesters. This population consisted of 9,400 anonymous students, which accounted for 20,365 individual course enrollments. The data obtained included demographic data, course grade information, and the last date attendance for students who failed the class. The data were statistically analyzed to determine the relative effect of course delivery methodologies with the population trimmed along a variety of demographic variables. In addition, the rate of student retention and persistence through the developmental mathematics sequence was also statistically analyzed.

This analysis, consistent with findings in previous studies, indicated that online delivery methodologies can be at least as effective as face-to-face delivery methodologies for all groups of students as measured by student grades. With regards to non-grade measures of student success such as retention and persistence, however, online courses did not fare as well as traditionally delivered sections. These mixed results suggest the overall value of online course offerings for developmental mathematics courses, but educational leaders must be aware of and work to account for the relative weaknesses of online delivery methodologies.

Year manuscript completed


Year degree awarded


Author's Keywords

course delivery methodology, online, face-to-face, developmental mathematics, community college

Degree Awarded

Doctor of Education


Educational Studies, Leadership and Counseling


College of Education & Human Services

Dissertation Committee Chair

Randal H. Wilson

Committee Chair

Randal H. Wilson

Committee Member

Mardis D. Dunham

Committee Member

Thomas J. Pharis

Document Type