Academic self-concept, locus of control, and social support in college algebra for traditional and nontraditional students
Over the past decade in educational research literature, three theoretical perspectives on the ability to think mathematically were expressed: (1) mathematics arose from the same ability to acquire and use language; (2) the language communication, mathematics is a culture (Carey, 1992). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to research the transmission of the culture of mathematics on the post-secondary level of college algebra achievement for the traditional and nontraditional students. The criterion variable of college algebra achievement was investigated using the predictor variables of academic self-concept, internal-external locus of control, and social support along with descriptive data of entry into college, ethnicity, gender, and financial status. During the spring, summer, and fall of 2002 and spring of 2003, 475 traditional and 55 nontraditional students of approximately 2,380 college algebra students volunteered for the study. The total sample consisted of 367 females (69%) and 163 males (31%). At the end of each semester, the college algebra grades were collected for each group. Regression analysis techniques indicated statistical significance ( p = .05) for univariate results of the traditional and nontraditional groups (F (4, 525) = 7.18, p < .001) on internal-external locus of control (F (1, 528) = 9.64, p < .002) and social support number (F (1, 528) = 18.09, p < .001), with nontraditional students (M = 9.04) more internal than traditional students ( M = 10.80) and traditional students (M = 4.09) with more support than nontraditional students (M = 2.89). The relationship between the criterion variable of college algebra achievement and the composite of predictor variables, including entry for nontraditional and traditional students, was not supported. The independent relationship between the criterion variable of college algebra achievement and each predictor variable of academic self-concept, internal-external locus of control, and social support for the nontraditional and traditional student was not supported. Explanations for the outcome of this study may be due to a lack of defined mathematical cultural quantifiers and cultural perspective research instruments tailored to mathematics. Recommendations for future research include suggestions for studies that measure the understanding and use of the language of mathematics, positive mathematics support, and achievement by strata.