Nontraditional Student Success in Entry-Level Mathematics Courses: An Explanatory Case Study
The percentage of nontraditional students, or students age 25 and older, is increasing on college campuses in the United States (Caruth, 2014). Knowledge of mathematics is necessary for success in the technology-driven U.S. society (Kus, 2018). Research has been conducted on best practices for teaching mathematics to nontraditional students, but a gap in the literature remains on the motivational profiles of nontraditional students in entry-level postsecondary mathematics courses (Rothes, Lemos, & Gonçalves, 2017). Self-determination theory provided the conceptual framework for the qualitative case study. The purpose of the qualitative explanatory case study was to describe factors which may impact the success of nontraditional students in entry-level postsecondary mathematics courses at a community college in South Carolina. The population was nontraditional students age 25 and older enrolled in entry-level mathematics courses, and the sample size was 21 participants enrolled in entry-level mathematics courses at a community college in South Carolina. Data were collected through questionnaires and interviews. Results showed nontraditional students in entry-level mathematics courses were autonomously motivated to succeed, and teachers and outside academic assistance were experiences impacting nontraditional student success. Community colleges should provide nontraditional students with teacher-led academic assistance in entry-level mathematics courses to support nontraditional student success. This study can benefit community college educators and leaders by providing insight into practices leading to successful completion of entry-level mathematics for nontraditional students.