The effectiveness of an application of some concepts from andragogical instruction as compared with traditional instruction in an introductory college algebra course

Ni Z. Hornor

Abstract

A firm grasp of the fundamental material in Introductory Algebra should lead to continued success in the three course sequence: Introductory Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and College Algebra. For students who take this introductory course as part of the sequence, it is compelling to make this course as effective as possible since it is, in many cases, the stumbling block in their academic pursuits. A diverse population is entering postsecondary institutions due to the needs arising from life transitions such as career change and self-fulfillment: adult students, minority students, students from low social-economic background, first generation college students, students who are part-time or full-time workers, students who are caring for their children as well as aging parents or disabled spouses, and students who are physically and/or learning disabled. They have different needs and place new demands upon instructional process and design. The present study was conducted in an effort to determine whether the nontraditional instructional methodology with andragogy as the guiding principle significantly influences students' algebra learning. The subjects consisted of 36 adult and 45 traditional students enrolled in four sections of Introductory Algebra during the fall semester of the 2000-2001 school year at a community college in the rural southern part of the state of Mississippi. In addition to receiving lectures given by the instructor, students in the experimental group undertook in-class, self-directed and self-paced learning projects once a week by receiving computer-assisted instruction. Student peer-helping groups were formed, and approximately ten in-class group activities were organized during the semester. The members of the peer-helping groups were encouraged to study cooperatively outside the class. Also, a few concepts of the course were learned through group presentation. The students in the control group received lectures solely. The effectiveness of the two instructional methodologies was compared in terms of adult and traditional students' achievement, attitude and retention by using statistical procedures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), analysis of variance (ANOVA), and Chi-squared. Results revealed that students in the experimental group had statistically significantly higher post achievement than students in the control group. Further, adult students in the experimental group not only had statistically significantly higher post achievement as compared with adult students in the control group, adult students in the experimental group also had better attitudes than adult students in the control group. Recommendations include suggestions for future studies with similar design and suggestions for postsecondary institutions to provide nontraditional students and faculty with additional resources, services and counseling to enhance the teaching-learning transaction.