Research in Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 7, pp 719–749 | Cite as

Increasing Success Rates in Developmental Math: The Complementary Role of Individual and Institutional Characteristics

  • Kristen E. Fong
  • Tatiana Melguizo
  • George Prather


This study tracks students’ progression through developmental math sequences and defines progression as both attempting and passing each level of the sequence. A model of successful progression in developmental education was built utilizing individual-, institutional-, and developmental math-level factors. Employing step-wise logistic regression models, we found that while each additional step improves model fit, the largest proportion of variance is explained by individual-level characteristics, and more variance is explained in attempting each level than passing that level. We identify specific individual and institutional factors associated with higher attempt (e.g., Latino) and passing rates (e.g., small class size) in the different courses of the developmental math trajectory. These findings suggest that colleges should implement programs and policies to increase attempt rates in developmental courses in order to increase passing rates of the math pre-requisite courses for specific certificates, associate degrees or transfer.


Developmental education Community colleges Math education 



The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A100381 to the University of Southern California. Additional support was received from an internal grant from the Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences (ASHSS) Initiative of the University of Southern California, Office of the Provost.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen E. Fong
    • 1
  • Tatiana Melguizo
    • 1
  • George Prather
    • 2
  1. 1.Pullias Center for Higher Education, Rossier School of EducationUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Los AngelesUSA

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