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The influence of student math beliefs on math course selection at a hispanic-serving institution

The California Community College (CCC) system is required to recommend students into English and Math courses eligible for transfer credit as a result of the California Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education AB705 (California Education Code, 2017a), an act to amend the Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012. In addition to providing access to transferable English and math courses, colleges are encouraged to redesign their curriculum to increase student success. This mixed-methods study explored how student math beliefs are related to their math self-placement at a community college in Southern California designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI); furthermore, this study examined how student math beliefs are related to their demographics. The CCC placement policy recommends students directly enroll into transfer-level courses with or without a corequisite support course. However, students may choose to enroll in a transferable course, a transferable course with a corequisite course, or a one-level below transfer math course. A survey was conducted to collect demographic data and assess student math beliefs. Qualitative data collected from open-ended questions on the survey added clarity to student perspectives on the appropriateness of the math course. The resultant data for this study’s hypothesis demonstrated that students in transfer-level courses value math classes, understand the value of math in their educational and career goals, have a high level of math confidence and low math anxiety; and have not experienced discouraging words about their math performance. The study showed math beliefs were lower for students who plan to transfer and were enrolled in a non-transferable math course.