Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Ronau, Robert N.

Author's Keywords

High school; Instructor; Learning; Algebra; Postsecondary transition


Algebra--Study and teaching; Academic achievement; Teachers--Attitudes


The purpose of this study was to investigate various secondary to postsecondary mathematics transition issues for students. Making successful transitions from high school to postsecondary study has become necessary if our nation's young people are to obtain and hold good-paying jobs in the workplace. Knowledge of algebra is the critical gatekeeper for success in completing high school and postsecondary training. Nationwide 22% of entering freshmen at degree-granting institutions are under-prepared for college mathematics and must enroll in developmental mathematics classes that repeat the content of high school mathematics courses. Researchers have documented disconnects between secondary and postsecondary mathematics' expectations and assessments. Reform initiatives, many of which are working in isolation from each other, have been undertaken at both the secondary and postsecondary level, but little research has been conducted to determine whether there are differences in instructor beliefs at the secondary and postsecondary level that may impact the transitions for students in mathematics. A researcher-developed survey was administered to a random sample of high school, two-year community and technical college, and four-year college and university mathematics instructors in Kentucky to determine how well they believed students were mastering American Diploma Project algebra benchmarks in high school, non-creditbearing, and credit-bearing college algebra classes. Findings indicated there are differences in high school and four-year college and university and high school and two-year community college instructors' perceptions of perceived algebra learning in high school classes and in credit-bearing college algebra classes, with high school teachers consistently rating mastery of algebra topics higher than the college instructors. Research indicates that instructor perceptions have an impact on instruction and on student learning. Differences in instructor perceptions of student learning in key transition algebra classes may affect the quality of instruction, and consequently equity for all students may be in jeopardy. Significant three-way dialogue between high school, community college, and four-year college and university instructors is needed in order to mediate differences in instructor beliefs and find ways to enable students to make successful transitions from high school to college mathematics.