Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham


Patricia S. Moyer-Packenham


David F. Feldon


Beth L. MacDonald


Kathryn E. Van Wagoner


Suzanne H. Jones


Online developmental mathematics courses have high dropout rates. The focus of this study is to improve understanding of how students’ perceptions of the online learning environment and student motivation from course design predict student drop out. This understanding will benefit faculty and institutions on student support for online developmental mathematics students.

The study included 330 undergraduate students enrolled in online developmental mathematics courses during the Fall 2018 semester at eight public universities and colleges in the Utah State Higher Education (USHE) system. Participants completed a survey with questions measuring their perceptions of the learning environment. They also completed a survey to measure student motivations toward their online mathematics coursework. Participants’ answers were tied to data measuring course persistence, completion, and retention. The researcher used statistical analysis methods to generate findings.

The time-to-completion and regression analysis showed two things. The degree to which a student perceives that he or she can succeed at the coursework (self-efficacy) predicted student course persistence and completion in online developmental mathematics. Also, the ability of participants to identify with the online community (social presence) predicted student course persistence and completion in online developmental mathematics. The analysis on student retention did not show any significant results.

This finding suggests that efforts and interventions geared towards building student self-efficacy and designing more social presence interactions may have the potential to increase course completion rates in online developmental mathematics coursework. Building self-efficacy in online developmental mathematics coursework,and a positive support group of fellow classmates through social presence, has the potential to give students the tools necessary to successfully navigate their own learning.