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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Norena Badway

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

W. Norton Grubb

Third Committee Member

Delores McNair


The purpose of this research was to document the types of contextual approaches used in developmental education in the California community colleges and compare the effectiveness of those contextual courses to standard basic skills courses. The study used a mixed method design to identify colleges and courses using basic skills math instruction in the context of an occupational program. Survey respondents reporting contextual basic skills math courses provided course materials as evidence of contextualization and the basic skills math level. Logistic regressions were used to analyze student level data from the California community college system office database for contextual and non-contextual basic skills math courses identified at 34 of the responding semester colleges. Contextualization of pre-algebra mathematics was shown to increase the likelihood of successful remediation, accelerated entry into college-level coursework, and success in college-level and transferrable coursework for students in the California community colleges. The increased likelihood of success in college-level courses for students in the contextualized instruction group was evident in both the initial semester when the math course was taken and the subsequent semester. Contextual math instruction was found to be most effective for Black, Hispanic, and Other Non-White students. While there was no significant difference for White students, Asian students were more likely to pass standard basic skills math courses than they were contextual math courses. The research also documents the scarcity of this effective format of remediation in the California community colleges. The research suggests that recent policy changes may be contributing to this scarcity. Policies and practices to direct students into standard math sequences that meet transfer course prerequisites are not only increasing the scarcity of these types of innovative ways to provide engaging remedial coursework but are moving students into remediation that almost guarantees limited success at the community college.





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