Date of Award

2002

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

Paul S. Brantley

Abstract

Problem. Many students at all levels of the education system in Jamaica perform poorly at mathematics. In particular, the results of both the Caribbean Examinations Council and Business Calculus 1 at the university level have reflected a declining trend in mathematics performance in recent years. Consequently, this study sought to investigate the variables related to the successful completion of the first course in business calculus at Jamaican universities. To this end, the study looked at perceptions of students and their professors regarding students' cognitive, affective, and professor effectiveness variables impacting success.

Method. The sample for this study consisted of 389 business calculus students and 12 professors from three Jamaican universities. The survey research method was used to ascertain the perceptions of the students and their professors. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences was used to analyze the data by way of descriptive statistics, cross tabulation, chi-square, discriminant analysis, and the t test for independent samples.

Results. Eleven hypotheses were tested to solicit from the students and professors their perceptions of the variables related to the successful completion of the first course in business calculus. Both successful and unsuccessful students and their professors perceived that certain cognitive, affective, and professor effectiveness variables were important for success in Business Calculus 1. However, they perceived that ability and relevance were not as important as the other variables. Successful and unsuccessful students differed on the level of practice, relationship with fellow students, professor's help, active class participation, professor's clarity, use of calculus principles in everyday life, and out-of-class individual study required for success in Business Calculus 1. The students and their professors differed on the importance of relevance for success in Business Calculus 1.

Conclusion. This study suggests that students and their professors in the three Jamaican universities are cognizant that certain cognitive, affective, and professor effectiveness variables are important for success in Business Calculus 1. However, more needs to be done to improve students' perceptions of their possession of these variables. In addition, the universities and their professors need to do more to enhance students' awareness of the relevance of Business Calculus 1 in particular and mathematics in general to everyday life.

Subject Area

Calculus--Study and teaching (Higher)--Jamaica.

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