THE IMPACT OF INSTRUCTION INCORPORATING CONTENT AREA READING STRATEGIES ON STUDENT MATHEMATICAL ACHIEVEMENT IN A COMMUNITY COLLEGE DEVELOPMENTAL MATHEMATICS COURSE
Rust, Amber Heller
Campbell, Patricia F.
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When a student is not successful in mathematics, teachers frequently assume the difficulty lies within the student's mathematical ability or negative disposition towards mathematics, but the difficulty may lie with the student's reading comprehension (Draper, Smith, Hall, & Siebert, 2005; Kane, Byrne, & Hater, 1974). Many post-secondary students enter classrooms with limited knowledge, skills, or disposition for reading, and this can impact comprehension of their textbooks and other school reading materials (Snow, 2002). This is especially important since college-level work requires students to assume responsibility for independent learning by reading their textbook. Students have difficulty reading and comprehending the text in mathematics textbooks due to the textbook's unique structure, density, and vocabulary (Barton & Heidema, 2002; Idris, 2003). Incorporating content area reading strategies into classroom instruction may be a vehicle through which teachers can facilitate students' ability to learn from their mathematics textbooks (National Reading Panel, 2001; Siebert & Draper, 2008; Snow, 2002). This study utilized a quantitative control-treatment design to investigate whether the incorporation of reading strategies into the instructional practices of a community college's prealgebra developmental mathematics course would effect students' overall mathematics achievement in the course as measured by standardized course assessments and the course passing rate. Participants were 179 community college students enrolled in a prealgebra developmental mathematics course during a spring semester (13 instructors; 16 sections). Student demographic data, as well as instructor professional and demographic data served as control variables. Observations of selected treatment- and control-class meetings, and interviews with instructors informed qualitative context. Hierarchical linear modeling revealed no statistically significant difference in performance on standardized measures or course passing rate between students in the treatment and control sections. The qualitative observations and interviews indicated limited fidelity of implementation of the reading strategies across treatment sections. HLM results suggest a difference in student performance between levels of implementation. Weaker implementation of the reading strategies was associated with lower student performance, as compared to that of high treatment implementation or control sections. These findings indicate that organized professional development is necessary if community college faculty are expected to incorporate reading strategies into their instructional practices.