Introductory college math, commonly referred to as “gateway” math, has long stood as a barrier to degree completion for community college students, disproportionately impacting students of color and those who are the first in their families to attend college. A new research study conducted by Education Equity Solutions set out to better understand what determines how students fare in gateway math, specifically looking at what role instructors and instructional practices play.
Researchers analyzed data for 22,827 students in 704 gateway math classes at four California community colleges to learn how instructional factors influenced pass rates in gateway math. Instructors, the study finds, are by far the most important factor in predicting course success — twice as important as a student’s prior academic performance.
“This research makes it clear that what math faculty do every day really makes a difference and there are practical strategies that particularly benefit Black and Latino students that can be adapted by all faculty.” says Mina Dadgar, executive director and founder of Education Equity Solutions and lead author of the Counting on Math Faculty study. “We simply can’t ignore math’s importance in the work to advance student success and equity in higher education.”